Two Swifts and a packet of crisps please


A small ramekin of hand crafted wasabi nuts to be correct but it was The Sheppey. Before we get to that lets tell the tail of the day. It was a wonderfully sunny bank holiday Monday. The hottest since I was in shorts I believe. James was naturally early. Was this a good sign? It was defiantly above zero on the thermometer as he was sporting flip-flops and his Auntie Margarets sunglasses!

So we were off as usual. It's actually been quite a while what with holidays and weekends away and all that. Still it was good to be riding with the pack again. Aqueduct Crossing was looking resplendent in the late summer foliage. We entered Hamwall and what did I spot at VP2 but a Sparrow hawk in a tree. Nice start to the day don't you think?

These days are lazy for all concerned and that goes especially for the local wildlife. You don't really get your moneys Worth in these sunny days. Yes the sunshine is long but the activity is short. We stayed for a few hours with two Bitterns to keep us company

Plus a few more regular fellows.

VP1 is an odd sort of spot. We never seem to stay around there if at all. Very rarely see anything at all to be honest or is it just us? But today we did manage the Glossy Ibis. Aww poor thing. At one point there were three but don't know where his mates have gone. He's been flying solo for a while now. Maybe next year you'll find love fella. You had to stand on the benches at the front to see him but there he was all the same.

Now on to the Tor Hide. Lovely place when things move around. Today we had Coots and Little Grebes and that was about it.

Oh and a frog swimming along.

Another Little Grebe

Ah this takes me back to the old days of Twitter competition with @robinmmorrison of "thing and Tor"

Cycling on we went across the divide to the Scrape on Shapwick. Its a bit dry at the moment with mostly mud. I had read on Twitter that that jet setting Uber Twitcher Cliff (@01000011S) would be in town. Sure as eggs is scrambled for his hearty breakfast in the morning he was there hunched over his scope with those disgusting plastic shoes he has! He was taking it easy with the local fodder. He did point out a Greensand and a Greenshank feeding on the mud.

Spot the Green ones if you can!

We had a bit of a natter and left him to his business. We had to do the obligatory Osprey tick on Noahs. Unfortunately the Hide is being rebuilt at present so you were stuck on the path. That left you about half a mile from the thing on a stick.

It was literally a thing on a stick once you cropped in!

And then came the confession. If you are a follower of either myself (@EFRSblog) or James in particular (@Moorfeathers) you will be aware of the sad demise by drowning of James beloved Sony camera. Much sympathy was poured out by the twitter community. Benevolent funds were set up, charities were formed and wreathes of sympathy were sent. The black horses were ordered and a monumental mason offered his services for free. Ok there were a few "Oh dear thats very sad" tweets. However it transpired that yes he lost his camera in a ditch on the levels but the lens attached was mine! A lovely old Carl Zeiss 50mm f1.8 pancolar DDR. OK not the best of Zeiss's but still a lovely old manual metal beauty from the 70's. These things have character and style and solidity. My collection of Takumars are things of artistic beauty. It had survived all these years to be tossed into a ditch. Tragic to say the least. I am genuinely heart broken by it's loss.

I was however pleasantly rewarded with one of the last hobbies of the year. I did have to wait a bit for it to come back and James was a bit blasé about it as he had earlier in the week got one for himself.

After a rather delightful stop off at Eco friendly bites (@ecofriendlybite) which produced an excellent cup of Earl Grey for me and a huge mug of Hot Chocolate for James, HOT CHOCOLATE on the hottest August Bank holiday since dinosaurs wore knotted hankies on their heads!!!

Anyway we were fed and watered and off again down to the tranquil waters of Westhey. Not known for its exciting sightings on the whole we still fancied our chances. Down London Drove James didn't stand a chance with the logs over the mud. Bit of hurt pride and muddy knees later he was up and at 'em

Man Down!

First stop was that funny horse shoe hide I can never remember the name of. It was quiet, too quiet. While James kept watch I flicked over to the little side and clipped on the 100mm L macro lens. First time this year!

Bird crap for flash testing.

There wasn't a great deal of creepy crawlies around so I went for the arty death and decay we all know and love so much.

Three, two, one your back in the room. These Swans are the best your going to get from here.

Oh and this thing in the water that kept us scratching our heads for far too long.

Not a lot else to snap at.

This Hawker tested my (James) patience...

So what about those Swifts and packets of crisps? Well we did the only thing open to a couple of thirsty adventurers and stopped off at the Sheppy to debrief ourselves. While there two swifts flew passed as we crunched on our savoury snacks and ale. Perfect end don't you think?

The finale was the exquisite cycle from The Sheppy back to Glastonbury via Godney. In the evening sun it is possibly one of the most beautiful rides there is. Or is that just me? This chap was wandering up on high over me as well.

Meanwhile my (James) cycle home included a Buzzard doing a tightrope walk...


Dire Straits PT2

I had intended do go for a few early morning walks to the reserve opposite the hotel (Punta de n'Amer) but it never happened.  Instead I managed some late walks there before dinner time.

The area is full of pine trees, dunes and boulders and ... joggers.  Literally everywhere.  Whilst I admire their sportiness and toned physiques (I'm still working on mine, 36 years and it still hasn't happened).  The amount of footfall surely affects what wildlife might be around.

Nevertheless I did see some odds and ends.

Scarlet Darter - a suitable name. Well done.

Audouins Gull - last years Menorca post had much better pics of these.

Swallow in a surprisingly cloudy sky - probably thought he was in the UK...

Same for this fellow

I bet he has eaten plenty of lizards,birds etc in his time :-(

At the end of the trail lies a small fort which gives great views from the top.

The way in (looks like its occupied by Gollum)

Cicada (just the skin)

View of the fort

Cannon jutting out to repel baddies

Spotted Flycatcher I think - loads of em.

This Hoopoe has digging around near the fort.  Luckily I was in a trench and could sneak up on him

He looks hard as nails but was actually a soft sod.

Okay, so now you are thinking what has he called it Dire Straights for?

Let me tell you.  One morning I awoke to some slightly cooler weather.  The Boss said it would be fine for me to go on a cycle ride until dinner - this part is vehemently denied by my better half.  But that is what she said...

The hotel had free bikes, so off I went.  In my mind I had planned to go to Alcudia, more specifically the s'Albufera reserve.  Cant be that far... Oh and I didnt have a phone.

Started off alright, bit hilly but nothing to severe.  After a couple of hours I was in the very pleasant town of Arta, which does actually feel Spanish and is less polluted with T-shirts, beer and bad tribute acts.

Turtle doves were more abundant in the countryside.
This one played a cruel trick on me (read on)

Quick break at Arta.  Traffic was heavy because a tree had just collapsed!

Next stop to look out for would be Sa Coma.  This is where things got more difficult.  I should have cut my losses.

I cycled and cycled and cycled along the MA12 road (just saying it gives me the chills).  It alternated between lactic acid hills and wonderful swooping descents.  Then it started raining, hard.

I was drenched. Wearing any clothes was pretty pointless tbh, but I didnt want to get arrested.

It took about 20 minutes to subside and off I went again, through Can Picafort (looked tacky to me) and on and on.  Then finally s'Albufera.  I was finally here.

And what an entrance! An Osprey perched up on a pylon right in front.  I hurriedly pulled out my camera... Nothing.  Dead battery.  It was the Turtle Dove's fault. I had left the bloody camera on...

Its the dot on the pylon 

There were egrets of all varieties hanging around along with dozens of Squacco herons (a first for me).  A quick time check revealed that I had about 30 mins if I was going to get back before dark (it had taken me just under 4 hours...)

Its a great place and well worth a visit (just hire a car or get a hotel in Alcudia!)

I took a big breath and back I went.  This is when things went wrong.  My lack of fitness reared its ugly head plus the way back felt steep as hell.  An hour in and I was struggling and thirsty - except I had drunk my bottle dry.  Added to this the front tyre had got very soft and I didnt have a pump.

I was knackered, seriously knackered.  Weird black dots in the eyes and all.  My legs had seized up and I had to dismount and walk.  The situation wasnt helped by a cocky foreigner (I wont say what country as I dont want to cause a war) who drove passed in his jeep laughing and jeering.  Tosser.

That road was so bloody long and I felt so awful.

After 2 hours I had made it back to Arta.  I was seriously dehydrated but there were shops... Except they were all shut.  Bloody hell.  Resting in the afternoon. Pah, what nonsense.

Then God himself took pity on me...

There was a 2L bottle of sealed water outside a house on the pavement... Yes I did take it.  And I am sorry but it was that or passing out.

The Holy Water...

After peddling round the corner to safety I drank 1L there and then.  I then blundered my way to the old train station.  There I located a shop that was open.  The man behind the desk asked if I was okay... I must have looked bad.  I bought a big bottle of coke and 20 mini muffins...

After 20 minutes there was nothing left.

The old Arta train station, viewed from the floor. 

Once more God thought I deserved a bit of a break.  I found a cycle trail which went back roughly homeward.  Except that after the first 10 minutes back in the saddle the front mud guard somehow twisted and jammed its in the wheel.  By that point I couldnt do anything in a dextrous fashion and I simply wrenched half of it off.  Problem solved.

The cycle track was great, taking me through little farms and vast valleys.  Booted eagles in the sky and no camera to get them with...

Nearly 5 hours in I got back...60 miles of cycling/walking/shambling under my belt.

There was silence for just under 24 hours.  The Boss wasnt happy...

I was still in dire straights...

A fine consolation prize - Hermanns Tortoise.  Lovely little fellow.