Bittern, turtle, fox and gecko.


This week has been rather lovely. It started off with me staying at my Mum’s apartment for a night. Decided I needed a little Amie time. I stepped out onto the balcony to enjoy the first morning sun beams and was greeted by the site of a gorgeous, bronze fox. It seemed timid and very on-edge. I watched it for a while. The foxes here in Cyprus aren’t the dazzling copper of the ones back in the UK. They are flecked with an array of brown colours. Still breathtaking though!


I took a couple of volunteers to do wetland surveys of the Famagusta chain. It’s a full day of monitoring but it’s lovely because each wetland has it’s own unique charm. We saw a huge group of Alpine swifts at Ergazi which was exciting. Warblers were aplenty, with spectacled, lesser whitethroat, cetti’s, fan-tailed, sardinian and chiffchaff all performing their delightful songs. I had a call from Robbo saying a Bittern had been injured and we needed to collect it to keep it in our rehab cage for a few days. Such a feisty character, and utterly stunning. It’s rare to see bitterns, normally you just hear their booming calls through reed beds. To see one so close was amazing, although, the circumstances could have been a bit better. Luckily it only had a bruised wing, so we provided it with fresh fish for a few days and released her back at the reservoir.


Another call from Robbo and another animal for us to help. This time it was a turtle that had been stranded on Esentepe beach. It was a pretty big Loggerhead. It was covered in barnacles, algae and bivalves. Looked in a pretty bad way. We think it might have been caught in a net and brought up too quickly, giving it “the bends”. This has left it unable to dive properly, so it has just been floating at the surface, unable to feed. We loaded it into the truck and brought it back to Alagadi awaiting further instruction. I demonstrated how to take biopsies and how to apply flipper tags and we also took measurements of the  carapace (shell). It was then taken to the University vets to be placed on a drip and get some TLC.


This week I also got back out on a fishing boat. I’ve really missed it, but been so busy! Me and Rupert headed out to Esentepe harbour to meet Cemal. A new fisherman for the team, he was lovely! I used my very limited Turkish and he used his limited English. Between us we managed to communicate okay! He was joined by his brother, and another nearby boat was captained by his son. A family of fisherman (Aile balıkçi)! They had a good haul of their target fish and no by-catch, so it was a good trip. The sunrise was a stunner, such an amazing way to start a day. We usually arrive to harbours in the cover of darkness, which has given me the opportunity to study the stars. I now know a few more constellations and have seen my fair share of shooting stars. I see Jupiter regularly. I now know Scorpio, the Scales of Justice and the Ursa Major (not just “the plough” part). I’ve always loved star gazing, there’s something calming about it.


Another regular wildlife day I have is the Olkan and Amie eagle days. We use these days to monitor the Bonelli’s eagles breeding in the North of Cyprus. It was an amazing day. We got to see 4 individuals, 3 of which we saw enter the nests. Absolutely fantastic. Such beautiful creatures. Sometimes I find myself pinching myself that I get to live this sort of life. I get to monitor eagles!

As well as the field work, animals also great me on a daily basis. In the mornings I have elated bleats from the goats and a wheezing exclamation from Dion the donkey. By night I have the two gecko’s in the corner above my bed. Unfortunately they aren’t great at keeping the mosquitos at bay and I have had a few bites this week. Mainly on my face and the bottom of my feet!!!!


Another fantastic week. Flying home tomorrow for a week. So looking forward to cuddles!!



Sunshine-y days

Another week has gone by and I’m still as happy as ever.

I have never been in Cyprus at this time of year before, but I am glad I’ve had this chance! The flowers are incredible! I didn’t realise there were so many shades of yellow! The birds are further ahead than back home in Britain. Great tits are already breeding. The house sparrows near sleepy house are constantly finding nesting materials. Barn swallows are making repairs on last years mud huts. Most wetland sites we visit have a gang of frogs ribbeting away. The sun is constantly shining and the weather is warm and joyful. My freckles have come out in full swing!

It’s been quite a birdy week this week! We have a new volunteer called Fran. I’ve taken her out on a few trips. We had the opportunity to go out with a man called Doug! He’s a proper adventurer and helped me a lot with some tricky ID questions! I’m know pretty confident at telling apart a green sandpiper from a wood sandpiper!!

A few of us joined Damla, Robbo and the kids for bird ringing this morning. I got a few ringing ticks which was exciting! My first ever black redstart and linnet! We also caught a red-fronted serin! The second sighting ever for North Cyprus!!!

I’m loving the flow of life over here. I have amazing field work that I get to do in between my PhD! My down time consists of drawing. I’m a bit addicted at the minute. I have a lot of practice to do, but it completely takes my mind off of anything and everything !!!

Another amazing week in one of my favourite places!

Arrivals and departures


This week has been quite quiet really. The end of the month, all surveys pretty much completed. A lot of time to spend in the office doing my PhD work.

We gained a new addition to Sleepy House this week in the form of Tom. He is a fellow Northerner and ex-Exeter University student. We also share a mutual love for pop music! Amazing!


One wetland day was done this week, I saved it for Stacey’s last day. The highlights of the trip were a dazzling, aquamarine kingfisher and a stunning male hen harrier. We stood and watched them both for a while. I’m finding it really interesting seeing the changes of diversity over the months. Each wetland has it’s own niche, attracting different species of varying numbers. I go back each month and they change more and more. You can really feel the migration happening. New species are appearing and the regular wintering birds are moving on. Pochard are classified as vulnerable, I have seen large groups in my surveys over the past few months, but now they are appearing less and less. They seem to be moving North. Preparing for the breeding season and escaping the oncoming harshness of the summertime Cypriot heat. I’ll be doing the same myself. I’ve escaped the harsh Northern winters and will escape the intense Southern summers. I’m becoming more bird.

Species might be leaving Cyprus for the time being, but new arrivals are coming from Africa. Chiffchaffs can be heard uttering their skipping song. Barn swallows and red-rumped swallows are increasing in number each day. As I write this I can see them soaring through the skies, having a feast to regain energy after such a long commute. Their squeaking, chatter is a welcome sound, it puts a huge smile on my face. I have seen two hoopoe already this year and two great spotted cuckoo. Both extremely impressive birds and both another sure sign of Spring’s arrival.


Birds are coming and going, but I had a horrible goodbye this week. Stacey’s time at the project came to an end. We’ve become such good friends over these past two months. I feel quite lucky actually. We have laughed a lot, sang a lot and shared many an iced coffee. Between us I think we have consumed half a tonne of marshmallows… I’m sad she has gone but also feel very happy that I have made such a great friend.

The other day I had a great discussion with Rupert and Tom. It was quite philosophical but it has made me think a lot ever since. We watched a video that said that empty space is one of the most important things in life. A vase is only useful because of the empty space inside of it. Music is made beautiful because of the spacing between each note. Words can be understood because of the space surrounding them. I have thought about this a lot and I actually really like the idea. I am usually away from home. So much so that my Dad calls me a nomad. If I think about the space I have between all my family and friends I now think of it as special. That space means that every time I see someone it is filled with happiness. Every hug is cherished. Every cup of tea we share is extra cosy. It means the time I share with people is filled with extra loveliness. That makes me really happy. A life of loveliness… and tea.


The week I held a shark

This past week has been full of mixed emotions. Pure elation, extreme weirdness, unwanted sadness.


The sadness came with the departure of the lovely Mat! His stint at Sleepy House came to an end this week. He’s off to go on amazing adventures in Madagascar and Mozambique! Although it is weird not having our Belgian boy around, I always try and find silver linings for situations. And I am so glad that I have a new friend who I get to miss. That’s a nice thing to gain I think. Even though it is rubbish to say goodbye!

Before Mat left, we had an extremely exciting encounter! We were on a fishing observation trip together and had two surprise catches. The first was a beautiful marbled electric ray. Mat handled it carefully and showed me the steps of what body measurements to take and how to sex it. The one we had was an adult male. The sex can be distinguished through the presence or absence of claspers. I won’t go too science-y, but thought it was an interesting fact! He explained the differences between sharks and rays to me. There are a couple of intermediate species you see… The Guitar fish is one of them. And so is the Angel shark. We had not long released the ray back into the sea when an Angel shark was on board. Again, Mat talked me through the measurements and how to sex them. This time we had a female. No claspers present! She was utterly beautiful. She was released successfully back into the Mediterranean sea. We looked into the conservation status of the Angel shark. They are considered extinct in this region, so a record like this is so important!

I am still loving my Cyprus life. Office stints for my PhD work are broken up by field work. Perfect life really! The birds are getting more vocal each day. I was walking home from Goat Shed (the office) the other day and just stood for a moment to watch two Sardinian warblers hopping along the fence.


This morning we were putting up more Great tit nest boxes. The view from the mountain road was breathtaking. The forest itself was like something from a fairytale. Delicate orchids have started emerging from the carpet of pine needles. I imagine they’d be a lovely home for a fairy or two!

I am loving my Cyprus family. I’m smiling every day!

We make amazing cake. We have amazing group cuddles. And they fully embrace my weirdness!

My week of happiness-es

This week has been a write off for fisheries work. It has been too wavy, the wind has really picked up. The sea is constantly changing colour as it is churned up from the deep. It’s really relaxing to watch the huge waves come in and crash against the rocks. It gives you a moment to appreciate just how amazing and strong mother nature is. I think awesome is probably the best word to describe her.

Quite a few wetlands have been monitored this week. 12 to be exact. Each having a quirky beauty and a unique assemblage of birds. I’m starting to get my ear in now. I can identify quite a few species from their songs or calls but I need to keep practicing. This time of year is lovely, the sky becoming thicker with sound everyday. A constant cacophany of twitters. I’ve heard my first chiffchaff of the year already. They have a delicate and sweet song. I almost imagine them skipping along, whistling a happy up and down note with each wingbeat. Greenfinches are uttering their wheezy tunes. Cetti’s warblers are bursting out in a flourish of happiness. Black redstarts crackle on their favourite perches. It’s lovely.

IMG_6786A new volunteer, Rupert, joined the team this week. I went and got him from the airport and gave him the usual welcome hug! Lucky for him it was pancake day and so he was treated to Amie-made pancakes! I did a huge batch for all the volunteers to munch on! I think my favourite topping is still the classic lemon and sugar. The afternoon was not as sweet. Sav and Mat brought back two dead turtles that had been caught in fishing nets. Me and Stacey necropsied them. It might sound morbid, but it is weirdly interesting to do. I mean, I now know how to sex a turtle (it’s to do with the presence of a membrane in which the eggs are grown and stored)!


Valentines day came and went. I chose myself as my valentine this year. Or more specifically, my life. It is so exciting right now and I am so happy. It feels so nice to be surrounded by such amazing people both here and abroad. I have so much to look forward to and so much I want to achieve. Exciting times lie ahead! Anyway, enough blabbering. Valentines tea was made be Rupert and me. We made coconut milk daal and homemade roti. It went down a treat.


Friday was a particularly nice day. In the morning a few of us went to see a fisherman in Lapta who I had been emailing. He had a poster for us, of all the fish they look to catch on their trips. Perfect for the office! We enjoyed a turkish coffee with him and listened to his stories from his various fishing adventures. He has some impressive scars! In the evening we were all invited to Penny’s house. Penny is an expat living out in Cyprus for much of the year. A huge friend to the Turtle Project. She cooked us up an amazing roast dinner, with a new york cheesecake for pudding! I don’t know if I have ever been so full!


The radio interview finally aired yesterday. I was shocked at just how northern I sound. I always thought I had quite a neutral accent. Turns out I really don’t. Northern and proud!! It’s on again for the last time today. 11am UK time, 1pm Cyprus time. It is on Bayrak International Radio station on the program “The Main Event”.


Anyway, I feel as though I’ve rambled enough.




Radio Interview

Just a super quick post…


I was interviewed for a radio program on Bayrak International here in Cyprus. The program is called “The Main Event” and is hosted by the lovely Denise Philips. It’s a chat with myself and one of the volunteers, Stacey, where we talk about the different parts of the project I am leading. There’s also a little bit of background information about us both too.

Here is a link for anyone interested in having a listen:


Time: 17/02/18 @ 15:00 Cyprus time/ 13:00 UK time

18/02/18 @ 13:00 Cyprus time/ 11:00 UK time


Happy listening.

Another day, another bird

This week has been pretty busy. Lots of different field work which always keeps me on my toes.


The first birding day was spent with Mat. I took him to 4 different wetland sights. Kalkanli, Gonyeli, Haspolat and Balikasir. The weather first thing in the morning was really hazy, so for half an hour or so we danced around and sang along to gangsta rap. As you do… I love showing everyone the different birding sights. They always react really nicely and say how beautiful they are. That’s the thing with birding, most places are remote, beautiful and peaceful. Partner that with some amazing bird species and a flask of coffee and it’s pretty much a utopia. Anyway… The bird surveys went really well. We saw a good variety of species including my first ever red-crested pochard! The haspolat site is a working sewage plant. It was extremely smelly. But sewage attracts insects, which in turn, attracts birds. Cattle egrets were in the 100’s. Spur winged plover squawked overhead as they were flushed by the truck. Cetti’s warbler were bursting into song in the reeds surrounding us. If you ignore the sewage, it’s pretty nice. Honest. We drove away from the smell to stop for lunch. Unfortunately for us, about half way through our sandwiches, a huge truck came and unloaded lots of smelly waste right next to us. We managed to find the funny side. Unbeknownst to me, Sav and Stacey had been making a surprise banoffee pie for a belated birthday treat (it’s my all time favourite pudding). Mat had been the distraction. I arrived home to a glorious toffee, banana creation! I was so chuffed. The afternoon was spent learning about CPOD’s. These are devices that are attached to fishing nets in order to detect any dolphin activity (vocalisations). Today was the first day we had positive recordings. 8 minutes of dolphin clicks!


Mid week I had planned to meet Olkan to monitor the Bonelli’s eagle nest sites. This is a hush, hush operation as hunting pressure and illegal poisoning are a huge threat to these birds. Their whereabouts needs to be kept secret. The trip was temporarily postponed as I got a call from Robbo saying a small turtle had been caught in a fishing net in Lapta and that I had to go and teach the fisherman how to flipper tag it. Flipper tags are used for individual ID of the turtles. I took Stacey along and we arrived at the harbour to be greeted by a smiling Ertunc aka Billy. He showed us the turtle, a juvenile green. I talked him through the flipper tag procedure and took some body measurements and a biopsy. We released the turtle back into the Mediterranean sea and enjoyed a turkish coffee with our new fisherman friend. My planned day could then start. I met Olkan and we spent the day driving mountain roads in search for nests. We didn’t see any eagles but observed one nest and found a potential site for another pair. En-route we had the lovely opportunity of seeing a pair of sparrowhawks. I’ve never seen a pair together before. A beautiful adult female with a juvenile male. The juvenile kept coming back to investigate, not quite as cautious as his older mate…

Finally got to do some bird ringing this week. My first session since getting my C permit! I took Stacey along so she could do some observation. We met Robbo and set up the nets and we were joined by Damla later on. The session was quite slow, only a handful of birds. BUT…. I got to ring my first ever Cetti’s warbler and bluethroat! Such beauties! It’s always nice to get a ringing tick. The session had a negative turn though. We found 2 dead marsh harriers. They had been poisoned. We are not sure who, but someone had distributed chicken breasts laced with insecticide around the area (probably to kill stray dogs). The raptors ate the bait and died. A cat and a dog were also found dead. I could rant and rant about this. But I’m going to keep it simple. I just don’t understand this human behaviour. So after the ringing session we went to Bayrak radio station for an interview. It hasn’t aired yet but I will post a quick reminder for anyone that wants a listen!




In-between all of the field work I’ve been cracking on with my PhD. I’m shattered, but I love pushing myself! I can’t get enough experience and I’m feeling really good about my research!

What a fab week! Can’t wait for the next one!




25 years

It’s my birthday today.

First birthday I’ve spent without any family member. Although I have an amazing Cyprus family out here to celebrate with.

My last week of being 24 I spent monitoring wetlands and doing on board fisheries observations. Definitely can’t complain. I even got to drive a fishing boat and park it up in the harbour! I’m officially a Captain now!

24 was a good year. I made some tough decisions, but ultimately came out stronger for it. I am now a happy Amie again.

25 year old Amie is going to continue to conquer the world. I’m going to travel more, learn more, smile more and just be bloody happy!

I’m currently sat on the terrace of sleepy house. The sea is calmly washing against the shore. Crested larks are merrily chirping. Bright yellow flowers are painted amongst the lush grass. I’m so lucky. I also have cake to eat later. It might not be my Nanas chocolate cake, but it will have to do!

Now I’m going to go for a beach walk. Dip my toes in the Mediterranean Sea and look forward to an amazing year ahead!

25 is my year! Watch out world!

Catch of the day

What a full week! It has been non-stop with one thing and another. We temporarily adopted a dog (I named him Leonard). Visited an animal sanctuary. Monitored lots of beautiful wetlands. Patrolled beaches for stranded turtles. Ate freshly caught fish. And I started my stint of fisheries observations.


I won’t go into too much detail about everything. I will try and keep it short and sweet.


The main task for me this week was to go to lots of wetland sites to do the monthly survey of the various birds that can be found there. I did 10 this week. Pretty chuffed with that. The sites are beautiful, especially now the weather has decided to get a bit nicer. Each wetland contains a varying diversity of birds which keeps the excitement up! I think my highlights this week are pintail, marsh harrier, kentish plover and the many, many kestrels. There are stonechat’s everywhere at the minute, they are always a nice sight as I don’t often see them back home. There is also a black restart that has a favourite perch outside of the office window. He can be quite distracting sometimes…. One of the wetland sights me and Stacey visited ended up with us having a deep hatred for mud. We very nearly got very, very, very stuck. Thank goodness for four wheel drive hey! The colours on the various drives have been incredible. The sky is a perfect blue against a vivid green lushness. So beautiful.


Beach patrols were done by everyone. We headed to the west coast and walked the beaches looking for any stranded turtles.  This is because they might have perished due to bycatch and then washed up. We didn’t find any, but it was a nice day out for us all. Even if there was torrential rain… One of the nicest parts of the day for me was the noise of the pebbles tumbling over one another in the swell of the waves. It was so peaceful. The sounds of the sea hypnotises me. Why anyone would want to talk over such a noise I do not know?!


The two boys have been out on fishing boats doing observations and brought back a parcel of various fish species for us to try. You can’t get it much fresher really! We fried them in a thin coating of flour and spices which made them perfectly crisp and a little bit too tasty!


Now for the highlight of my week…This morning it was finally my turn to get out on a fishing boat. I headed to Bogaz harbour with Sav to meet a fisherman heading out at 03:00. It was a very early start, but so worth it. I was armed with my travel sickness tablets, a flask of coffee and a helumi sandwich. As well as my binoculars and waterproofs of course. We spent 6 hours out at sea in total and it was a delight. It was such an amazing experience being able to watch all the tricks of the trade. And, do you know, fish are actually really beautiful up close. When the sun was rising the world around us came alive. Gulls were calling above us, flying fish were skimming the water and we gained a bit more energy too! The sun emits a bit of magic to the world. We finally made it back to the harbour and were invited back to the fisherman’s house for breakfast. He steamed some of the fish from today’s catch and we ate it with a small sandwich. Nothing better.


Such an adventurous week. And I’ve bloody loved every minute. Loving my little Cyprus family too.

Have a glorious week everyone. And if you feel a bit rubbish then listen to a black redstart call, they are really weird! x

New friends and rats


Sat in the office in Cyprus at the Turtle Project base. I have Whitney Houston blaring. Good day.


Been back in Cyprus for a week now and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve met the first 3 volunteers who signed up for the project. I’d exchanged various emailed and messages with them before hand. But it has been amazing getting to know them all! There is Stacey, who is just a little package of loveliness. Sav who makes the most delicious aubergine lasagne I think I will ever eat. And last but not least, the amazing Mat, who is the only person I know that has been bitten by a shark!!!!


We’re living in sleepy house. An old bungalow in Alagadi village. We have made it super cosy, it’s like a mini paradise now. We share sleepy house with a gecko called George.

So, what have we been up to….

The main project at the minute is a rat eradication project on a small off shore island off of the tip of Karpaz. We have been spending a lot of time there trying to get everything running smoothly. We get a small propeller powered boat over to the island from a beautiful little beach. Our driver Jamil is lovely, but I don’t think he trusts me and Stacey much around his beloved boat. We can’t seem to master the art of getting on and off it. We end up face first! We have acquired very bruised knees. The whole purpose of the project is to eradicate the rats from the island so the Audouin’s gulls might return and breed. This would be fab! The rats were introduced to the island and have caused the gulls to move to a very small, rather unsuitable island. Rats eat the eggs and chicks….


On the way back from the first Karpaz trip we stopped off at Nevzat’s house. He is a local fisherman in Karpaz. I’d already met him in my stint at the turtle project in 2013. We all sat around a fire and were given shots of local spirit. It was super strong, heated you right through! We also had some fresh hazelnuts to munch on. I’ve never had them fresh before, they were lovely. We stayed there for a while and just enjoyed the local chattering. Everyone is so welcoming here.

Seen lots of lovely things in this past week. Lots and lots of rainbows. Probably the best rainbows I have ever seen actually… One ended in the field just next to sleepy house. We were unable to locate the pot of gold unfortunately! We have seen wild Karpaz donkeys. Audouin’s gulls, mediterranean shags, black redstarts, stonechats, kestrels. I think the most beautiful sight though is the night sky. There is no light pollution at sleepy or Karpaz. Or hardly any….The sky is absolutely bursting with stars. I keep finding myself becoming slightly hypnotised by them. Pure beauty and magic right above me. If that isn’t a reason to smile then I don’t know what is!?


On top of all the field work I have been sneaking away to the office for PhD days. Been very busy, but loving every minute! Life is treating me well. And I have made 3 new friends who are just fab!


Tomorrow is the start of a new week. I’m well excited!