Monday, May 31, 2010
I slept well again last night, and I had another very nice scrambled egg breakfast this morning.† I packed up and hit the road by about 9:30.† I had decided to take the southern route, rather than drive through the Lake District.† I have seen the Lake District, and it is very beautiful, but I chose the new route where I had never been, partly because it included a chance to stop at South Walney Nature Reserve.† I didnít expect to see anything new, but it was at least a nature reserve, with the chance to see some birds.
It was again a very nice drive, with nice weather and great scenery.† Everything is very green and very pretty.† It was an easy drive, although part of that is because I am finally getting used to my rental car, and I feel more confident about its size.† Even the narrow roads donít bother me as much now, unless I have a stone wall next to me.† Today there werenít very many stone walls.
As I approached my destination, I stopped in a town to pee, and while I was at it, at a convenient grocery store I picked up a nice chicken and pasta salad, with sun-dried tomato dressing, and an extra pack of about 5 ounces of Tikka chicken breast pieces.† I was then set for my lunch.
I arrived at my destination, South Walney Nature Reserve, about 11 oíclock.† I paid my 2 pounds for a permit, and I wandered out onto the reserve.† There was a long loop, about 3 miles, and a shorter loop.† I chose to walk around the shorter loop, which included 4 hides.† It was a very pleasant walk, and I got some bird pictures I like.† I had seen Eiders (a species of duck) in Edinburgh, but I got closer looks today, and I took pictures, of course.† I also got pictures of both male and female Stonechats, which I was pleased to get.† Very attractive little birds.† Also a male Reed Bunting, a Meadow Pipit, and some pictures of Swallows that I like very much.† I even took some pictures of Oystercatchers.† I have seen them almost everywhere, but I like them, so I took some more pictures today.† One is in Photos21, along with the others from today.
I stopped at a hide and had my humble lunch Ė chicken pasta salad, extra chicken, Diet Coke, and a small pack of cookies I had picked up at one of the places I stayed.† It was a very pleasant place to have lunch, with photo opportunities coming along from time to time.
The reserve is a big breeding site for European Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and after I finished the shorter loop, I walked up to the Observation Hide, which is in the middle of the gull nesting area.† When I had arrived and paid my 2 pounds, the woman gave me an introduction to the reserve, but other people were arriving, and she hadnít told me about the bamboo sticks they hand out, to ward off the gulls.† I saw other people with them, but didnít pay much attention.† I had no need for a stick on my walk around the shorter loop, but when I got back to the headquarters and was heading out to the Observation Hide, in the middle of the gull nesting area, another woman there told me that I needed a stick and showed me how to hold it so the top of it was above my head.
It is a good thing she did.† There were gulls nesting right next to the path, and their mates were very aggressive about defending the area.† I held up my stick and waved it around, but the gulls flew at me and screeched.† One of them let loose a bomb at me, but it missed me, fortunately.† I made it to the hide, and after a while I went back through the gulls.† This time one of them actually hit my stick.† I took some pictures, though, including several of a gull on a nest right along the path.† It stood up and screeched at me, and I could see and photograph the three eggs in the nest.† It was very stimulating to walk the gull gauntlet.
By that time it was after 2:30, and I headed for my Travelodge home for the night.† I wanted to stop at a supermarket nearby (this is a Travelodge I stayed at a couple of weeks ago, so I know the area), and I wasnít sure what time it might close on a Bank Holiday.† They all close at 4 PM on Sundays, and I thought it might close at 4 today.† As it turned out, I made good time, despite the holiday traffic, and I got there about 3:35.† The parking lot was really crowded and there were tons of people there at that time.† I got the stuff I needed for dinner tonight (some ham, some veggies, and some rolls) and re-provisioned myself with beer, Diet Coke (with and without caffeine), and nuts (peanuts and cashews).† When I left about 3:55, the parking lot was much less crowded, and not many people were going in, so maybe they did close at 4 today, or maybe it was just a lull in the action.† Either way, I had what I needed.
So, I drove to my Travelodge, and now I am all settled in.† Comparing this Travelodge to my country hotel of the last three nights, I think the Travelodge comes out ahead, overall.† The bathroom is better here, the room is actually a little bigger here, I have a desk and chair to use the computer at (rather than perch on a stool at a sort of dresser thing), and it is costing me about 1/3 as much.† On the other hand, there isnít a bar and restaurant here (unless you count the Burger King and greasy spoon cafeteria across the parking lot), and at the country hotel, the bed had a top sheet with a light blanket and a light bedspread, while here it is just a heavy duvet, with not even a top sheet.† The room here is about 75 degrees F at 7:30, and I will be too hot with the heavy duvet on, Iím afraid.† I really like to have a top sheet and a light blanket, but I have had that in only a couple of the places I have stayed.† Almost everywhere has a duvet that is pretty heavy, with no top sheet.† Yeah, I know I am nit-picking, but that is how I am Ė very critical and analytical about everything.† Anyway, on balance I am happy with my Travelodge for tonight.† Especially about the part where it is costing me only about 1/3rd as much.
Tomorrow is a driving day.† It is supposed to rain for most of the day, across all of England, and then it is supposed to be dry for several days.† That is great for me.† I donít especially like driving in the rain, but it is better than having rain when I am trying to see birds, which I will be doing after tomorrow.† It is only supposed to be about 4 hours of driving tomorrow, almost all on motorways, so it should be another easy day.† If all goes well, and it is indeed raining, I will have some extra time when I get there.† Tomorrow my destination will be the Travelodge that they moved me to when they had the fire at the Service Area where the original one I was booked for is located.† That is a pretty complicated sentence, I guess.† To clarify, I am heading for the Oxford Peachtree Travelodge tomorrow.† It should be about 4 hours of driving.† I have a couple of birding sites near there, and if the weather has cleared by then, I could stop at one or both of them.† If not, I will check in early.† Well, not earlier than 3 PM, as they charge an extra 10 pounds to do that.
By the way, the internet access I bought for Travelodge is working fine still.† I paid 30 pounds, as I remember, for a month of access.† I feel like I have gotten my moneyís worth out of it.† That 30 pounds will have provided me with access for 8 nights by the time I am done, and that is very swell worth it to me.† That is about $5.75 a day.† Considering how cheap the Travelodges have been, by booking and paying in advance, it is very much worth it.†† I donít like paying extra for internet access, but you have to look at the overall cost.† One of my British birding contacts told me about Travelodge, and it has really been great for my purposes.† Very basic, but it fits my needs very well.
I guess that is all I have for today.† No new birds, but I got some pictures I like, and I had a great time.† Coming up Ė the Greater London area.