Tuesday 26 November 2013

Chilled Cycling to Cotham Flash

Of course, as you know I'm not just active by night, I take in the sights by day as well. But the weather has been cold, my left leg has a calf strain, and I'm always worried about the rattletrap giving out under me after I've cycled ten or more miles out.

But as I left my flat first thing, a strange quavering "tseeeep" caught my ear, not a sound I'm used to hearing on the driveway. A twitching of branches of my sycamore tree revealed the the culprit. A tiny goldcrest was paying me a visit, the first I've ever seen at my home. Normally they prefer to forage on conifers and the like, but this specimen, possibly a female judging by the yellow, rather than golden, mohican on its tiny head, was feeding on the sycamore. Seemingly, it was taking aphids and greenfly from the underneath of the leaves, and I got to watch it for a good ten minutes.

Much heartened by this, I decided to try my luck with a visit to Cotham Flash ponds that afternoon. Kitted out for winter cycling, I took myself the long way there, heading south on the N64, catching sight of goldfinches feeding off teasels, and a rubbish tip almost white with gulls; I've never seen so many there, and there were many circling overhead as well.

Turning through Cotham Village towards Hawton, I was hoping to catch sight of redwing or fieldfare feeding off the abundant haws in the hedgerows, but no luck there. And Cotham Flash itself was quiet. Only a few coots were on the water, and unlike my February visit, there weren't huge flocks of whistling wigeon taking to the skies at my approach.

However, the cycling on a cold day felt pretty exhilarating, and I did get one good sighting. A buzzard was sat on a telegraph wire, keeping an eye on some pigeons further along. It let me get quite close, and was able to pick out its shaggy white necklace around its neck, before it flew off towards a stand of trees with great slow wingbeats.

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