Monday, 14 April 2014


I have to travel six miles to work and six miles back, of late I've been somewhat annoyed at the start/stop nature of the commute, it seems like a complete waste of money and petrol so made a conscious effort that once the weather improved I would start cycling...secretly I was hoping for a monsoon but that never happened.
So far in a week I covered over 60 miles and weirdly I've enjoyed it except the up hill bits but even now I'm cycling these though it was rather embarrassing when a 11 year old on a BMX with a flat rear wheel overtook me, he giggled too as he went pass, I would've swotted the little twerp but I was to knackered :o).
The other reason for cycling was to shed a bit of weight too. On the way to work there is a short little path that not many people use, it's not very long and isn't much of a shortcut to work, I think it was once part of the old Northampton/Bedford railway line, as it is the path passes under the existing railway line, you have to get off your bike to get pass some tricky gates (stops kids on motorbikes) zig-zag a down hill path and pass another set of tricky gates before you cycle along a level gravel path with steep embankments either side, it definitely feels like an old railway cutting as a result of the tricky gates and it not being a shortcut not many cyclist nor pedestrians come along it.
But it's a little gem of a place, every morning the dawn chorus has been getting louder and louder, everything from Song Thrush, Blackbirds, Robins, Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming some Blackcaps and Chiff-Chaffs, the cycle home has highlighted the other aspect of this pathway, I counted six species yesterday, mostly Orange Tips and weirdly mostly males and with my mouth open gasping for air I've collected plenty of bugs too!
I went back on Sunday (by bike) with my camera Blackcaps and Chiff-Chaffs were what I was after so was the Peregrine I'd recently blogged about, sadly no sign of the Peregrine and the Blackcaps were sticking to the back of the trees out of "photographic" sight and it's not an excuse look below at the image, no "tidying" nor trimming of trees here......
 See what I mean it was going to be hard to get an image of any birds, I got this butterfly which is crap I kept blowing it's lime green wings in the bright light even when exposed at a minus 2 it was still blown.
 So I got a brainwave, it hurt, and headed for the zig-zag path as you could hide a bit behind the fence plus with the steep banks the Chiff's that were high up were now either at eye level or looking down at them. Still getting an un-obscured shot was tricky.

 Not actually searching for food but peeling the bark away for nesting material which was really interesting to watch, never knew a bird would use tree bark for nesting material.
 And finally one in song which is what I hear every morning, this cycling lark could be fun!


  1. Great images! Also, a timely reminder that I must get out on my bike - its ready and the carrying of equipment is sorted. No longer needed for work but I need to save more money, so the local birding patches will be my aim.

    1. I'm thinking the same Kevin, I got two good camera bags and looking at maps of my local spots the added bonus of finding spots I'd probably drive by normally....and I'm getting fitter, sort of.

  2. Great shots. The butterfly is a Brimstone.
    You'll have to get one of those little cameras that fit on your head. Just watch those truck drivers, a menace they are.

    1. Thanks for the id Adrian wasn't sure on that one, I tried strapping my 300mm to my head but it kept hurting my neck:o) I know those truckers are buggers, oh hang on that's me, to be fair Northampton has some brilliant cycle routes that circle the town (it's named Norbital) so hopefully I'll avoid the trucks the worse are the cyclist funnily enough, giving odd looks at a fat'ish bloke cycling, whizzing past in skin tight lycra...if anyone see's me in lycra you have my permission to shoot me.

  3. Great Brimstone image, Doug, but the Chiffchaff images are excellent! I've found them to be an extremely difficult bird to photograph at relatively close quarters. Well done there!

    Not sure about birding on a bike in general, however. I get nervous enough about leaving my car unattended in remote spots whilst I go off to seek owls. I reckon that the chances of getting back to find my transport had disappeared would be even greater if it was a bike!

    1. Thanks Richard, the Chiff-Chaff was quite approachable it really seemed to like the area I was standing in but they do normally get a bit skittish.
      The birding by bike is quite good, I've approached many birds without them fleeing it's almost as if they're not sure wether to fly away or stay I was inches away from a Song Thrush in full song the other morning it stopped looked at me and carried on. However some of the spots i wish to cover this spring and summer are very dubious for leaving the car behind for the exact reasons you explain (broken into etc) so I reckon the bike will come in handy as you can take it with you rather then leaving it behind....though my muscles disagree :o)