There’s something to be said for your local patch

Now that I am equipped with spotting scope I feel the need to justify the expenditure and go out and about looking for exciting birds. But, fortunately I also have a greater urge to not bother going anywhere in the car. This led me to Daventry Country Park on a dull Saturday afternoon.

Was it exciting, did I see new and exciting birds? Well, that depends on your definition of new and exciting. This year I have decided to do a bird list. It seems that this is something that “serious” birders regularly do and some even describe themselves in terms of the numbers of species that they have seen. I have decided that I would just keep a list of those species that I see on my travels on my local patch (I rarely stray far from this patch unless it is a rare visit to the in-laws in Derbyshire). I am hoping for about 80 species.

Well, I am now past 50 thanks to the treecreeper and lesser redpoll that I saw at the CP. My spotting scope allowed me to see all the different shades of brown on the treecreeper, but then so did standing about 6 feet away from it at the bottom of the tree it was in. The scope did allow me to recognise the redpolls though as they were hiding at the very top of a tall tree. I would like to mention at this point though that I know that binoculars are better in a wooded area, but I was looking at the gulls on the reservoir when I decided to look behind me.

I watched an old episode of Birding with Bill Oddie and he pointed out that looking at a bird through a scope just put them in an entirely new light. I couldn’t agree more – I love my scope and now could not imagine life without one.

So, in addition to seeing thirty different bird species in one trip, watching a pair of grebes performing their courtship dance, I also managed to get a few OK shots of some of tamer wildfowl by the visitor centre. Not bad for a dull afternoon in February.


Environmentally Friendly Transport

As the weather was warm this Sunday I decided to go for a walk to the Country Park. I am lucky living in Daventry in that the conversion of the old railway line (I believe that this was one of Dr Beeching’s victims) has resulted in a tree lined path from the north side of Daventry to the town centre that involves crossing only one small road in a housing estate. Not only can I get to the Country Park without going near any major roads, but I can also get to the industrial estate that I work on by bicycle or on foot by the same path.

I have to applaud the council for providing this amenity, and for its upkeep. It has also provided me with views of various fauna including muntjac, squirrels, blackcaps and fieldfares. However, whilst Daventry Council is better than many in providing separate footpaths and cycle paths (although until recently the use of some footpaths involved crossing the road a few times when the paths inexplicably ran out on one side of the road and started again on the opposite side), they have also fallen prey to the strange tendency that seems to have befallen many councils.

What am I talking about? The decision to put cycle paths along the side of the road, amongst all of the gutters. This type of cycle path causes all manner of problems.

Firstly, the lanes are narrow, and are not wide enough to cycle in. Secondly, the last place that cyclists want to be is in the same place as the gutter, these are noticeable enough when in a car, let alone on a bicycle. Thirdly, cars have a tendency to park in these lanes as there does not seem to be any hard and fast rules about where to park if there is a cycle lane.

cycle lane with gutters

End of the Cycle Lane However, there are two bigger problems than these, the paths often run out for no reason – then where am I supposed to cycle?

The final problem is one that I noted when waiting to walk across a road in a housing estate that has cycle lanes. I watched eight cars go past, but not one of those cars managed to travel 100 metres without crossing into the cycle lane. Tell me why should I get my bicycle out rather than getting in the car to go somewhere. Not only will I have to risk life and limb, but my bicycle will probably be stolen when I get to my destination.When will town planners realise that a coat is not sufficient protection for a bicycle compared to the metal shell of tonne of car? Cyclists should be given the same protection as pedestrians and given cycle lanes away from the danger and pollution of the road.