This is admittedly a little off topic, but given that most mountain bikers enjoy being in nature as well as cycling, maybe not too far off. Kingfisher in WageningenIt is cold out.  The temperature is - 5 degrees C, although the wind makes it feel more like -13. That means that all the small streams out in the countryside next to Wageningen (the Binnenveld) are frozen, so there are no fish to be found for the kingfisher. However, in the suburbs warm water from various sources comes into the ditches keeping them at least in part ice-free and suitable for fishing.  It also means that if the birds come there, people are walking and cycling past all the time, so it is possible to get not so far away (though any closer than this photo and it flies off) with it being too scared.  First we saw the bird, but came too close and it flew off.  We then cycled off into the (cold!) Binnenveld to see what else there was to see, but on the way back home called at the same ditch again, and there it was. We crept closer and managed to get the photo here. Yes!

Butterfly in the woods

It is not the time of year when you expect to see much iButterfly in the woodsn the way of butterflies, but this weekend there was one in the woods! As you can see, it is a painting, and it was fresh, the paint was still wet. What was particularly nice was that the artist used the natural shape of the bark to form the butterfly's body.

Winter´s end

Finally the ice and snow of the last months has gone.winter´s end It is back to muddy paths and warmer temperatures. Today (28 Feb) it was 8 degrees and I was so warm that I had to take my waterproof off. The wildlife was also clearly showing signs of the apprach of spring. Near to this photo (the woods by Bennekom) I could hear woodpeckers knocking on  the trees, see signs of wild board turning the earth over and flocks of coal tits and finches were flying around.

Glorious autmun

Blue skies, bright sun and cool temperatures. Most glorious autumn weather; the woods are looking quite spectacular, not to mention a greater-than-normal diversity of toadstools this year (after the damp summer)autumn

Thick snow

After a thick layer of snow fell last night, the woods were spectacularly beautiful today. All the trees were covered in a thick layer of snow and in much of the woods the snow was pristine with only footprints from rabbits and deer. It has not been so cold, so in places the snow and ice was on top of puddles of soft mud which was not frozen, so when cycling along across what looked like a piece of smooth snow all of a sudden it would crack and the bike would fall into the water. Fortunately none too deep

Melting snow

The melting snow in Germany and Switzerland means that the Rhine has now flooded over the summer dikesmelsting snow and is lapping half way up the taller winter dikes protecting the cities. The water is lower than a few years ago (due to extensive projects creating basins for storing water in nature reserves on the floodplain), but as we cycled out along the top of the dike protecting Wageningen from the Rhine it was still quite dramatic to see all the flooded land. Somewhat to our suprise, the flooding was not confined to the floodplain. At this spot in the forest near Ede there is always a pool, caused by upwelling ground water. However, today the pool was 3-4 times as large as usual, and spread right out so that you either had to go a long way round, or go through it. As it was spring water, it was crystal clear, so even though it was in places about 1/2 m deep, it was still possible to see the ground and cycle through it without too much difficulty, so long as getting wet does not count as difficulty. At least my apparently foolish decision to wear shorts was a good one in this case. Route (right-click to download)