Saturday, April 02, 2005

Fog-bound, but successful. 133 species in total

On the road by 0630, and a rendezvous with Julian McCarthy, my non-birding cycling companion for the morning – I met him on the internet (ooer) when shopping for my Lemond bike back in February. Avoiding the matching ‘Harold & Hilda’ outfits to go with our matching bikes, we headed north-east out of town, and quickly onto quiet but very foggy roads around Micheldever and towards Basingstoke. This is an area of the county I hardly know at all, and it was good to see somewhere fresh so close to home.

We got to Ewhurst Park by about 0810, locked the bikes up, and headed into the coppice. I had warned Julian that I’d either be about 5 minutes or hours – he had a contingency plan in the latter case – namely buggering off home on his own! As luck would have it, virtually the first bird contact in the wood was the target species – a calling Willow Tit, being seen off quite vigorously by a pair of Blue Tits. This bird was a good ½ a mile away from the spot where I’d seen one on my recce mission a fortnight back – so perhaps the population in this wood remains viable?

Anyway, bird in the bag, we rolled back via Overton (coffee and pastries), and (guess what) yet ANOTHER rear flat near Egypt. It really doesn’t appear to be me....but I’m going to fit thicker tape just in case. To add insult to injury, once I’d inflated the (brand new) spare, the valve promptly blew out. Start again! The belt and braces 2nd spare came out, and got me home! We also had a potentially nasty incident here – a riderless horse bolted past us down the hill and straight across a busy road – I ran back up the hill to look for the rider, fully expecting something very unpleasant. Luckily, the rider was fine – she was much more worried about the horse than her bruises. All OK in the end, thank goodness.

We cruised home – drafting really does work if you can dare to get close enough to the rider in front! – and dropped in for a quick drink and a ‘hello’ at Julian’s girlfriend’s house in Winchester. Home by 1215 – mission accomplished and a very pleasant social ticked off too! Also, over 10km per species today...