Tag Archives: birds

Cycle to RSPB reserve – Fairburn Ings

Today I took the chance to explore my hometown’s area. I never really owned a bicycle when I lived here. I had motorbikes and cars, but I don’t think I explored areas like I do now. I followed my usual method of looking online for interesting places, well, interesting to me. I plumped for an RSPB nature reserve to do a spot of birding. The closest reserve to me is Fairburn Ings. I love the RSPB, they make seeing nature easy and interesting. They have activity days, well marked trails, interesting information and they take care of wildlife, awesome. I am a member and proudly pay just a little bit each month to hep this wonderful society. So be warned there are more bird pictures than bike pictures today.

Getting to the reserve took me passed other places that I had forgotten about, some within walking distance of my home. And of course lots of cycle paths..though they seem to be more routes than paths.

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Here is my Chav outside Stanley Marsh Nature Reserve. That is a visit for another day. Many places around my home used to be mining areas. As that industry has moved into history, as you can see on the link above, many of the old collieries have been turned into nature reserves.

There are a lot of fields of wheat and other produce around too.

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I cycled through Castleford where I first started teaching, a lovely memory.

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Then a few more kilometres to my final location and birds, birds, birds. Just don’t go tI o far as you might end up in another county.

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Birds, birds, birds…no.. rain, rain, rain, so coffee and cake in the visitor’s centre until it stopped and then birds, birds, birds.

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Yeap, I did see a few robins and other small birds. There are larger birds there, but I had an appointment with a plasterer and had to start the ride back.

Here is my route there. Here is my route back.

Did you notice I put a new seat on Chav as the other was so uncomfortable and I added a kick stand, just a water bottle holder to go.

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The fattest seat ever! No need for cycle shorts on the Chav!

On another note I don’t know what has happened to the wordpress website but inserting photos into this blog was a pain in the butt today. It added the make of the camera as a title to all photos, which I had to remove. Also they were harder to move around. I hope this is not permanent and I am curious to see the final published version.

Lake Teganuma – Walk and Ride

First free and sunny day of the summer break. So off I go. I looked at my places to cycle map and decide on Lake Teganuma. It is about an hour away, flat, and apparently has a cycle path most of the way around. I found a place to park and invited a couple of friends for a short work at the beginning of the jaunt. I had chosen the only paid parking lot around the whole lake, we soon walked passed another that was completely free and almost empty. I moved the dot on the map to that place.

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Look at that sky!! Look at it 🙂

It is rainy season here and I have missed the blue sky. I wish I had brought my blue giant bike, but I wasn’t sure of some of the roads and decided against it. In the end it was a wise decision, but that was due to my own poor choice of paths not the lake’s fault.

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The path at the start was great, perfect for cycling and walking.

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Look I have friends!!! Tree-Hugger is pregnant and over-prepared man is the father. That one time he wasn’t quite so prepared 😉

Anyway, they came for a walk and to explore so I pushed my bike for a couple of kilometers. The whole lake is ladened with geocaches so we searched for a few. In the end I found six and then gave up as there was too much stopping and starting, plus there was a massive spider guarding one of them. It frightened me off a little. Huge HUGE!!

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It really is a lovely place to go for a walk. There are lots of benches, a bird museum, from 1st July there are water features too, and in wisteria season, loads of, well, wisteria

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At this point my pregnant friend was done in and had to satisfy the urge for curry. So from this point I cycled. The statistics and map of the rest of my journey can be found here. The gap in the track is where we walked.

At this point there seemed to be an influx of birds, did they know about the museum. Look, three little birds. All different kinds.

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Duck duck coot

And then swans galore, actually a “wedge” of swans, who knew? There were loads of birds around the lake, perfect if you happen to run a bird photography group.

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Later on the cycle I passed a shrine with a huge rock carving of a sumo guy. I stopped to take a picture and almost missed the actual dojo on the ground further away. The shrine is called Genshima Shrine and can be found at coordinates 35.840905, 140.142412. I found nothing about it on the net, so if you know anything please add a comment.

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This box had a peep hole. Usually I wouldn’t do this, but as it is in the middle of nowhere and it is not like you are going to do the peeping….I took a picture of the inside.

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And on with the ride. The path is better closer to the actual lake. The paths around the tributaries are none existent. That means if you have a road bike stick to the lake side. I will go back and do it again in wisteria time, with my road bike and stick to the path. I decided to go a bit further as I am a super rider now 😉 That meant I got to see the sumo shrine.

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The writing on the path says walkers this side, cyclists this side. They are big letters aren’t they. You would think that it would be easy to follow. Hmm.

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It was a lovely day. I took my time, but still got a Queen of the Mountain on Strava, though I do think they need to change that QOM as there wasn’t any Ms, but still, I do love a QOM.

Yatabe Circuit – Ushiku Swamp

Yesterday I had my original bike spring serviced. The gears were not shifting properly and I thought I needed a new cable and rear derailleur. I thought about doing it myself, but after watching some videos on youtube I realised I didn’t have the right tools or patience. So off to my local bike guy I trotted and I watched for 2 hours as he cleaned, oiled, and adjusted stuff. I learned a lot.

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He put on a new front tyre, an e-tyre he said because it had no wire apparently. New hand grips, with a special design to stop my hands aching…apparently my old grip showed signs of “grippage”. He didn’t replace the cables, but took them off and oiled them and the housings. He took off the back wheel and the cassette and oiled all of that too.

It felt like a new bike and is now my favourite again over the giant bike, for a while anyway. I decided to try it out on a bumpy path, not suitable for a road bike. I chose to go around one of the inlets to Ushiku Swamp.

For my actual course you can follow this link. I created the course by using Google Maps to give directions and used the directions on this blog to export the data to a GPX file for my gps machine. I also used the gpx file I generated to test out uploading it to mapmyride.

Though it is a short ride, only 14km, I actually cycled 10km to get there. So for me it was a 40km ride. One day I might try cycling round the whole of the swamp, but for now I went to the last bridge from where I began.

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On the way there I passed this weird street that was “bricked” for no reason at all. It didn’t see like a special place, it was lovely though.

I started the circuit at Yatabe Baseball Ground, for the reason that it had a car park and toilet block. So it seemed as good a point as any.

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The road starts off ok, but quickly changes to a rough path. I had seen on google maps that this was the case, hence the cross bike.

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By the time I returned to a real road from this track I had forgotten how bumpy the initial road was it was to start with and was loving the flatness and the hills. With the gears all fixed, going up the few hills felt like a breeze and it made me want to try Mount Tsukuba again…before I wreck the gears again. The track itself was ok, but I did keep my teeth together to avoid a bitten tongue.

There were quite a few fishermen along the side of Yadagawa River, proper fishermen..not the electronic, watch tv and wait for a beep kind.

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Parts of this route are quite quaint. It would be a great outing for a blue sky/picnic day.

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There are many kinds of birds to be seen along the route swans, coots, geese, ducks. Some of the route is quite urban and feels a bit derelict.

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On the whole I had a lovely day despite the fact I wasn’t sure if it was raining or just loads of were bugs hitting my face. When I got home I realised it was indeed bugs and had a bath to remove them. No smiling on this route please.

Here is a link to a map of the circuit: Link

Kasumigaura Bay

Today I went on a 40km cycle around the top section of Kasumigaura Lake, the bay part. The main lake is 97km around and I didn’t feel up to that today.

Here a the map of the area, zoom out to see the whole lake.


It was a lovely winter day, blue skies, not too cold or hot.

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I drove there and left my car in an evacuation area and park. There was nobody there and it looked a little sad, but then I noticed all the trees were of the cherry variety. So I guess it looks stunning during cherry blossom season. I will go and see. Parking here did mean I had a little jaunt before getting to the bayside. That meant I could check out a couple of distractions.

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Like this abandoned railway line and station.

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I did walk over the little bridge-thingy, and my legs shook the first time. If it was a line on the floor it would not have been a problem, but my fear of heights kept putting images in my head of me falling the barely 3 meters down. The second and third time were better, I almost skipped across. BUT the first time took forever for me to get moving, plus there were some annoying inner voices calling me a wimp.

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I took a few detours through little villages before getting to the lake.

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I don’t know if you can see the black dot near the tree. That is a jet. This area is fairly close to Ibaraki airport and today was a jet day, three of them noisily took off and flew around. From that point it was on to the lake proper. It was a stunning view, you could see Mt.Tsukuba in the distance.

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I was cycling clockwise around the bay area. I tend to always walk or cycle clockwise around ponds or lakes, I am not sure why. It just ‘feels’ wrong to go anti.

Anyway here is a little information about the lake. It is the second largest lake in Japan for starters. There is a marathon held there every April, so be aware of that when planning your trip. One of the attractions of Lake Kasumigaura are the sail boats known as hobiki-sen. I didn’t see any sails, but I did see many fishermen and a couple of boats. I also saw some tourist going for a ride or sail.

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After the big bridge to the other side of the lake I took another detour to Fujimizuka Burial Mound Park, which you can see on the map below.

These mounds are thought to have been created around the beginning of the 6th century.  They are some of the largest in the country at 78 meters.

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Again there was nobody here, I didn’t play as they are burial mounds. I did go up the steps to the top. On a day like today you can see quite far. This is also a good place to leave a car as there is an information center and carpark.

You can find the mounds here:

Back to the lake. People use the lake for many reasons; commercial and recreational. On the day I was there a few paragliders were buzzing around.

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As you can see from the picture below, the path around the lake is flat and smooth. Perfect for cycling on. There were only a few other cyclists and walkers using it, which made for an enjoyable day. As a point of note, on the 40km journey around the lake I didn’t see any convenience stores. So no water or bathrooms. There were both of these things where I parked my car and at the burial mounds.

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The lake is a haven for birdlife if you are a twitcher. Check out this website for a list of birds you might see.

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I saw a few great-crested grebes on my cycle, one of my favourites as a child…yes, I am that sad.

And that was my day. I will do the main part of the lake on another day. If you need a map or gps file for that, here is a very handy website. As you can see the route plotted did not go around the part I did today. That is why I did it. So next time – the other, bigger part following this map.

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Kasumigaura

https://www.kasumigaura-marathon.jp/english/index.html

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/tv/journeys/archives20130925.html

http://www.kasumigaura-kankou.jp/page/page000062.html

http://www.cs.le.ac.uk/people/fdv1/BIRDS/kasumigaura.html

http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=941836