Wednesday 31 December 2014

Last Snowy Adventure Run of the Year

A run along the owl road wasn't enough in the end, I had to go further, so after being teased by the distant winter thrushes again, instead of heading directly into Hawton on leaving the Cotham Flash area - gulls en masse to the South - I crossed the road and ran through wintery Poplar Wood, part of the Pykett's Plantation area.

My feet got wet, but I didn't see much. It was when I emerged from cover that a buzzard soared in front of a lowering sun over the River Devon, and big, evil looking gulls congregated in a field well away from the Hawton Road.

I did a lot of thinking, thinking of how to get the reader count on this blog up, get more interaction, and become a better birder. Now I know I'll never be much of a birdwatcher, but it would be good to improve my skill at identifying birds at a distance, and by call. I did thinking on my life too, how to get a better job, which I will freely admit this blog is part of.

More adventure runs are to be planned. I think I do well having a patch from Cotham at one point of the triangle, to Muskham and Langford at the others, that I visit on foot or by bike. I'm pleased to be able to spot interesting birds in town for people. My astronomy pieces are good outreach. But it still isn't enough.

A better camera is a must too. This Moto G is hopeless, can't even get good close up butterfly shots with it.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this strange mutant mash up of astronomy, running, Tourette's and wildlife. Believe me, being out there helps keep me sane, and all your comments and criticisms are welcome.

Leading off the Hawton Road

The winter uniformity of Poplar Wood

Tough going

Tougher going

Sun and wood

River Devon

Snow field
posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday 30 December 2014

More Running in the Snow

I was out again today for 10km, feet crackling on the frosted, beautiful crystalline snow.

I did the tour of the two lakes, both part-frozen and well populated with gulls standing on the ice looking puzzled. The kingfisher was on patch again, underneath the Barnby Lane bridge.

When the kingfisher flies off, it looks more like an exotic moth than a bird, and its stubby form is really quite ungainly.

I think the kingfisher dives better than it climbs!

So, through Beacon Hill Park which was fairly quiet, then to Rumbles for tea. Perfectly nice to sit in the sun with a hot tea! You should try it.

London Road Lake was icy today

Ducks in a drain

Clay Lane

Snow crystals are bringing joy to many

Looking south towards Claypole

Starlings in the tree

Construction site pond is now an ice rink

Beacon Hill looking North

The snowy way ahead at Beacon Hill Reserve

Cold castle

The Lock

Relaxing at the Sconce
posted from Bloggeroid

Monday 29 December 2014

Owl Country Snow Time Pictorial

Overeating at Christmas demands suicidal running. Snow on the ground set hard into an icy crust, no matter. I had to get out.

So through a frosted cemetery, across white cricket grounds, past frozen lakes, by the homeless tent dweller who has now constructed an additional shelter out of wood by the looks of things, I headed out to owl country and Cotham Flash.

The owl road was a grey slash through white, Cotham Flash white gulls circling against a low sun as Dunnocks drank from thawing puddles. I headed onto a bridal way before Hawton, past a field with a large flock of fieldfare. Fieldfare are surprisingly bulky birds in the air, their white breasts making them look almost like lapwing from a distance.

It was a rewarding, if slow 12km. You get a real sense of achievement, and a certificate in certifiability, when you run in bad conditions.

I love it. The world outside doesn't disappear just because it is cold.

Sun over the town of the dead

Elm Avenue cricket ground

Icy Lake

But no ice on this bit

Homeless man's camp

Owl Country

Post industrial landscape

Cotham Flash

Lumps of gypsum tell the story of the landscape's past as a mine


The bridleway

Large flock of fieldfare was on the left

Sun bright cannon
posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday 27 December 2014

Newark in the Snow Pictorial

Finally the snow arrived in Newark. I had tracked its approach via friends on social media; Wales, Telford, Derbyshire, Nottingham, but given this area's notorious sugar factory and Trent valley fuddled micro climate, you were never quite sure.

The flakes began to fall at around five thirty or so, great, wet conglomerations of snowflakes almost two inches across that despite making the sea seem as dry as a desert, began to settle and cover the ground. As time went by it became heavier, more conventional, blizzardy snow whipped into your eyes by a strong wind. Cars were struggling even on the urban roads, and the grey muddy town was rendered suddenly fairy-castle beautiful.

Even worrying as I was about my cycling work commute, it was impossible not to let an inner child's sense of wonder loose, and explore the transformed townscape.

Early on

Mr Bear feeling at home


The view towards Oscars

Laden branches


Snow shrub


Town seemingly under laser attack
posted from Bloggeroid

The Rough Sleeper on the Cycling Track

Christmas Eve too busy to run. Christmas Day too stuffed to run. Boxing Day I was too tired to run, but I still made it out, to run along the cycling path to owl country, my new favourite route.

The path was its usual self; blackbirds bathing in the drains and flinging leaf litter about; dunnocks and wrens crossing the track at ankle height; great and blue tits at work in the trees at eye level; gulls sailing the grey skies above.

And fire...the copse near the Gypsum factory seemed to be on fire.

The flames coming through the trees was quite distinct, but as I got nearer I realised it wasn't a fly tip being burnt, or an isolated patch of stubble burning, but rather it was a campfire being tended by a chap dressed in winter gear. There was a small tent, which seemed to me to be more like a kiddy's summer one for the garden, and also some sort of lean to open to the warming flames.

I was intrigued, but didn't want to disturb the man as he made his breakfast, convincing myself he probably wanted to be alone. I kept on running, and gradually his camp and his fire were left behind as I reached the bridge, and struck off across an owl country decorated by goldfinch, partridge and winter thrushes. There have been rumours since the summer that there was someone living wild off the cycle track, possibly an Eastern European fellow, but this was the first time I'd seen any evidence of that.

In retrospect, it almost seems like a folk tale, a Brothers Grimm affair set in the cold woods out of town. I should have approached the old hermit and offered him my help, and then listened to his tragic story of being chased out of town on a false premise. On promising to help restore his good name, he would have revealed himself to be a deposed prince, bishop, or magician, and given me a trinket of some kind before imparting an impenetrable wisdom.

Eventually, long after he'd been restored to his throne, I would have found myself in a sticky situation, and the nature of this knowledge would have suddenly become clear as crystal in my time of greatest fear. I would have escaped, and found my fortune and true path in life, in a different town, in a different occupation.

All because I stopped to help a poor man in a straggling wood.

Of course, I didn't do that. I shunned mystery, and kept on running. As the snow fell last night, I thought often of this chap; who he was, how he was getting on, and how he found himself sleeping rough in an undistinguished small town off a cycle track.

And I wonder if he was indeed a mysterious prince, looking to reward anyone who offered him a small kindness.
posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Kingfisher Territory Pictorial

I walked this morning, rather than ran. Somehow, I felt I needed a more relaxed start to the day, although in what felt like spring temperatures, I had soon worked up a sweat merely by employing shanks' pony.

I was down on the cycle path, thinking that a slow plod rather than a run would give me the best chance to see our new resident kingfisher. However, of neon blue flashes above the water there were none. Instead, I contented myself with watching the antics of a great crested grebe, still a handsome bird out of breeding plumage, and the comedy footed coots and moorhens spindling about the undergrowth at the water's edge.

Past the Clay Lane bridge, a flock of greenfinches crashed through the trees, while wrens and dunnocks operated at ground level. The sun made feeble attempts to peek through the humid cloud, failing every time. The wind funnelled down the track, making the bright yellow gorse flowers tremble.

All seemed good with the world.

London Road bridge. This is where I'm seeing the kingfisher at the moment

Reverse view from same spot

The lakeside drain

Owl box. Nobody home

Don't let your dog dive in the lake.

Female blackbird

Coot on land

Coot on water


The secret pond, under Beacon Hill bridge

Gorse in flower

At the marina, man angles not for swans
posted from Bloggeroid