Wednesday, 19 October 2016

NBROT comes to a bone crunching standstill!

Andrew Whitelee has been valiantly ploughing down the east coast of Scotland and England on his bike in order to raise funds for two charities; Wader Quest and Bird Observatories Council. He has battled the elements, diversions, rotten signage, punctures, a buckled wheel and closed bridges, all of which he overcame with fortitude and a cheerful smile.

Sadly all this was brought to a sudden end by a car careering into the back of his bike in a cycle lane! Andrew’s bike was thrown forward and he was jettisoned from it. He flew through the air, struck a bollard on the way down and ended up spread-eagled on the pavement, the car, a 4x4, drove on as though nothing had happened.

Andrew was understandably shaken and in a lot of pain so he didn’t continue with his journey that day although the bike was intact. He instead took a hotel room for the night (he quite reasonably didn’t fancy the hard ground in a tent that night). We urged him to seek medical advice and the following day he did just that and was advised that he should not continue with the journey for at least a week! His injuries were described as bruised ribs and hyper extended shoulder joint causing ligament damage; but it could so easily have been much worse.

Andrew though is a doughty soul and has pledged to carry on after a short convalescence. This means that he will pick up the journey further south and continue to the finishing line, as planned, in Cley in Norfolk on the 29th of October.

We will announce the restart point in due course and hope to be there this time to see him off and maybe support him to the finish line. We hope that maybe some will be able to come and wish him well and show their support when he restarts and/or greet him when he reaches Cley.

Andrew is naturally distraught and now feels that he is letting everyone down, but he is not, we can honestly say he is not letting Wader Quest down in any way; we appreciate what he has already achieved and if he decided to stop now, we would be more than delighted with the result (notwithstanding the terrible circumstances of this accident of course).

We hope that this set-back will not put people off supporting him, indeed we hope it will make people more determined to demonstrate to Andrew that he has no reason to feel anything but pride for the selfless effort he has already put in.

Make Andrew proud and help him achieve his fundraising goal, not for our sake, but for his.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Voting starts today in New Zealand for Bird of the Year!

We have agreed to help to support the motion to get the Black Stilt or kakī elected New Zealand's Bird of the Year. 

There are a number of birds from different families in the line up and at the moment the wonderful kakī  is languishing in fourth place behind two non-wader species.

It would be fantastic if a wader could win this year's Bird of the Year again after the Bar-tailed Godwit clinched it last year, especially one as intriguing, threatened and downright beautiful as the kakī.

Black Stilt or kakī

The New Zealanders love the All Blacks, so surely this all-black bird must be the choice of the nation.


Stephanie Galla

I am a post graduate student at the University of Canterbury where I study the black stilt (kakī). #TeamKakī is a group of devoted kakī enthusiasts and researchers who are hopeful to raise awareness of the amazing kakī through Bird of the Year. This beautiful, all black wading bird can only be found on the Mackenzie Basin of the South Island. There are less than 100 kakī left, which highlights the importance of raising awareness of this charismatic bird on a national and global stage. We will work our hardest to see that kakī is the #BirdOfTheYear!

To support the kakī for bird of the year go to the link below and exercise your democratic right to vote in favour of the Black Stilt, kakī or if you prefer Himantopus novaezelandiae

Voting closes Sunday October 30th at 5pm (NZ time)

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Norfolk Bird Race on Tour (NBROT) - second update

So that’s eight days done, 270 miles cycled, £290 raised (28% of target) and about 20 Mars Bars eaten along the way (that's just over £1.07 and 0.07 Mars Bars per mile). 

After the sun of the first three days, the weather has slowly deteriorated into more rain and wind.

Day Four (Glenrothes to Edinburgh)

Forth Road and Rail bridges. Photo: Andrew Whitelee.

It was great to get back on the coast path again and enjoy the views across the Forth. A strong wind slowed progress but being able to see the iconic Forth Road and Rail bridges kept me motivated. A nice selection of cycle-by waders also helped (turnstone, dunlin, redshank, curlew, oystercatcher and a feeding Greenshank). 

Bridge closed! Aaaaaaaaargh!! Photo: Andrew Whitelee.
However, having struggled through roadworks and head winds to get to the bridge, I found it closed to pedestrians and cyclists meaning a doubleback to Inverkeithing and a train journey into Edinburgh as the only option to get my bike across. Coming out of Waverley station into the chaos of central Edinburgh and the Royal Mile was quite a shock. I was pleased to get to my friend’s house and be offered lots of tea and a cracking curry. I also enjoyed the feeling of a nice warm bed.

Day Five (Edinburgh to Dunbar)

Bent spanner. Photo: Andrew Whitelee.
Today did not go to plan! Within 4 miles I’d hit a pothole got a puncture and I later discovered, buckled my back wheel near Musselburgh. I tried hard to get the tyre repaired but only succeeded in bending my spanner! After sitting in a café and considering my options I managed to find a local bike shop and wheeled my bike there. Three hours later, the guys at Ace Bike Company had me back on the road. 

Fading light and persistent rain. Photo: Andrew Whitelee.
Desperate to make up time I pushed on through the rain to Scottish Ornithological Club HQ at Aberlady where the lovely Jane made me a coffee whilst we talked waders. Still behind on the clock I set off hoping to reach Cockburnspath by dark. However, in the fading light and persistent rain I had to give up near Dunbar, and set up camp with Bass Rock and the Isle of May in view.

Day Six (Dunbar to Berwick)

Over the border. Photo: Andrew Whitelee.
An early start to try and make up time, but the conditions were tough and the route was very hilly. By lunchtime I had climbed several hills only to drop to sea level and start over again. Somehow the free-wheeled sections never seemed to make up for the effort of the climbs. Now for a little moan. Sustains do a great job creating and maintaining cycle routes but at times Route 76 left a bit to be desired. Getting lost and adding an extra mile or two doesn’t sound a big deal but when you are already tired its quite demoralising. Also its great that the hedgerows are maintained but if the thorns aren’t swept off the cycle path it makes for a treacherous journey. Progress was again slow and I gave up for the day over the border near Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Day Seven (Berwick-upon-Tweed to Warkworth)

Thorn induced slow puncture. Photo: Andrew Whitelle.
I woke to find I’d got a flats tyre due to one of the thorns the previous day. My bike pump broke when I tried to use it but the nice man in Wilson Cycles loaned me one to get going. The rest of the day was a race against time again, trying to catch up time and hoping the slow puncture held out. 52 miles later I got to my destination and collapsed into my tent and fell asleep in my clothes.

Day Eight (Warkworth to Whitley Bay)

Stonechat. Photo: Andrew Whitelee.
After changing my inner tube and getting the tyre sorted, today was an easier day. The weather was wet and foggy and it felt like there’d been a “fall” of birds overnight. As I cycled near Druridge Bay there were lots of winter thrushes, Skylarks, Stonechats and Goldcrests in every bush. I even saw a Yellow-browed Warbler in a car park feeding underneath a Transit van! The highlight though was a female type Redstart that flashed across the path in front of me. I realise I've not talked about birds much in these reports but I’m so conscious of finishing the bike ride and not letting people down that I’m probably not stopping as often as I should. 

There hasn’t been a day go by when I’ve not considered giving up, when I wake up aching in the morning or get lost again, or face another hill with yet another false summit, but there’s one thing that, more than all those put together really makes me struggle. When I look at the Just Giving total and see its not as high as I'd hoped. Don’t get me wrong, I am truly grateful for each and every pound we get but I wish it was more

I’m doing the pain, I really want the charities to gain.