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Oh what a wonderful week

Happy Easter and all that jazz! I’ve had a really lovely week at home. My Mum is dog sitting for my Auntie and so we’ve been off on lots of adventures with him. Bird song is filling the skies now which is exciting. Today I heard and saw my first skylark of the year. It was so high in the sky, I’m sure he was aiming for the sun!! I’ve been hearing a lot of goldfinch on our rambles too. I just love their bubbly sound. Another thing I’ve really enjoyed it seeing the new flowers and leaves emerging after a restful winter. I’m not the best flower or plant identifier but I’m trying to learn. So far I’ve seen Forget-me-nots, violets, bluebells, Forsythia, Common speedwell, Pilewort, Yellow archangel and many more!! There are lots of lovely beech trees with really fresh leaves too, they are so soft and so green!!

I’ve been seeing my grandpa a lot this week and helping him sort out some stuff in the house. He treated me to a chippy lunch and numerous brews!! I also got to take a load of spring onions and rhubarb from his vegetable patch!!

Another lovely thing this week has been my Turkish lessons. I’ve had two so it’s been good practice!! Demir, my teacher, said I have a great memory! I think I just need to put it into practice more! Won’t have a lesson for a while now as I head to Mozambique in a week!!

The last thing I wanted to say…. I’ve been getting really wound up with the human race. I know that sounds like a sweeping statement, but I just get so frustrated at how awful we are to the planet and the animals we share it with. My biggest issue is plastic. I won’t rant, but I just wanted to say some of the things I’ve swapped to so I can try and cut back!! For toiletries I use a bamboo toothbrush, a bar of soap not shower gel!!!, package free bar shampoo and conditioner, package free powdered deodorant (I keep it in a reusable tin), solid and package free body lotion (I use one that makes me smell like a calypso ice lolly!!). The next thing on my list is to get a metal razor that I can reuse!!! I always bring a canvas bag with me so I don’t use plastic bags. I have a reusable water bottle made from metal. These are just some things I’ve cut down on. I’m not perfect, but I’m consciously trying. Please please please change one thing you use if you can. It will make such a difference!!!

That’s it for now!! Xx

To Poland and back again.

I’ve had quite an exciting week this week. Nipped out of the U.K. to go to Poland to do a presentation and a little bit of teaching. I set off on Tuesday night and met my friend Donata and her boyfriend Sergio at their flat. I stayed there for my trip which was lovely!!

The first day back in the office was great. I got to see all of my favourite Polish friends and got a few hugs! My office buddy, Paweł, has inherited a lot of house plants and so the office is like a mini jungle! It’s lovely! He’s very proud that he’s kept them alive and that the zz plant is flowering! I saw my supervisor and we discussed the paper we’re writing and chatted about Mozambique plans. Cameroon Kasia bumped into me in the corridor and we had a lovely chat. I saw my favourite ever Polish person, Kasia, in the afternoon. She came into my office and picked me up and span me around. I went and had coffee in her office and she introduced me to her new pets. She has a gorgeous boa constrictor, some huge tarantulas, patterned cockroaches and some other beautiful African beetles. Her room is like a mini zoo now, amazing!

The next day I had my presentation for the conference being held in the biology department. I was having trouble connecting my Mac to the projector but luckily my colleague Michał came to my rescue!!! I think it went well and I answered my questions well. There were a few great presentations. One guy was talking about neurons. It’s a bit beyond my comprehension but he explained it so well and I felt very brainy for those 20 minutes!!

On Friday I went with Michał to do some field work teaching. We went to a small forest just outside of Poznan with 12 undergrad students. It was absolutely blumming freezing!! It was about 0 degrees and we were outside for 4 hours. We took the students around to do point count surveys and playback experiments to assess woodpecker behaviour. I was excited! I got to see some ravens, middle spotted woodpecker, common crane and a hawfinch!!! I was absolutely freezing and my lips were blue when I got back but it was a lovely way to spend the morning.

On Saturday I just relaxed and did some work before my flight home. It was a late flight but I got to cuddle my mum at the end of it!!!

It was a lovely change up this week. Nice to see my friends over in Poland. I’m shattered today though!!!

Xx

Dippers

Another nice week spent with family and friends. I had a random cold for a couple of days but I was fine after lots of brews and naps!!

I’ve mainly been doing work and practising my Turkish. I had an online lesson this week with my wonderful teacher, Demir. I really need to start writing a diary in Turkish! It would help my vocabulary so much!

This week I also went on a rainy walk with my Mum and Sister. We got soaked, but we had such a lovely time. We saw a grey heron up close which was great. We embraced the rain drops on our faces and laughed at our bright red thighs when we got home and changed!!

I finally managed to fit some bird ringing in this week. I met Jake and Ingrid early on Saturday morning and we set off to check Dipper activity. For those of you who don’t know, Dippers are the only songbird in Britain to have adapted to the aquatic lifestyle. They “dip” into fast flowing rivers to feed on all the scrumptious invertebrates!! This time of year they are pairing up and building nests! We saw a few pairs and a few individuals which was great! A great way to spot them is by there fast, fluttery flight over the ripples of the river or by their bright white chests when they perch on a stone! Either way, they are bloody gorgeous!

Last night me, my Dad, Grandpa and Aileen went for a meal in Manchester which was lovely! We had a bloody lovely tapas and a few bevvies!! Me and Dad blasted a few Queen tunes on the way home for good measure.

I’m now sat at my Nana and Grandads with my Mum. We’re making a chicken roast. Can’t think of a better way to end the week!

Xx

Little wrens

I’m posting after a gap of 2 weeks but I’m glad to be back!

Nothing too dramatic has happened. But I’ve gotten to see lots of my lovely family which is always a gorgeous thing to do! Whenever I am home I am put to use, I’ve been detangling necklaces for Nana; decluttering the loft with Grandpa; gardening for Dad and doing various odd jobs with Mum.

I’m slowly but surely getting all of my bits together for my research trip to Mozambique. Can’t believe I go so soon! I always love seeing new species of birds and experiencing new parts of the world.

Today I’m full of a stinking cold, but me, my Mum and my Sister met up for a lovely Mother’s Day breakfast and went on a walk. I spotted a sweet little wren singing his heart out on a low branch of a tree. Excitedly I pointed out the distinctive trill in the song, and explained how there were two others nearby so they were all singing to defend their territories. Molly laughed a lot, I’m such an odd ball! I always assume everybody loves birds as much as me!!!!

Anyway, not much to report, but having a cozy afternoon with my gorgeous Mumma.

Xx

Gareth and a gig.

The start of this week had me leaving the gorgeous North of Cyprus for a while. Before I left we nipped into Girne and I bought myself some scrumptious Turkish delight!

It’s been nice being home. I love all the hugs I get to have. I’ve laughed with Dad, chilled out with my Mum and giggled with my Sister. My grandparents all gave me lovely cuddles too! And of course, it’s lovely seeing the two cats, Ancient Saffy and big fat Lilly. Lily the dog was also chuffed to see me, although I think she just knows I’m a soft touch when it comes to treats! Since I arrived back, storm Gareth has been raging. Very strong winds of 60 mph and sleet and rain showers. Very different to the north Cyprus weather that gave me sunburnt cheeks!! But anyway, it’s lovely to be back.

I had a Turkish lesson this week with my amazing teacher Demir. The lessons are online so it’s very convenient. We were chatting about what I’ve been up to recently and he was helping me pronounce my vowels correctly! It’s all in the lips!

Yesterday was a great day. Me and my sister went into Manchester for a George Ezra concert. We went in early and went to a market place for food and wine. We shared a bottle of fruity red and munched on pizza. I was slightly tipsy by the end of it. Not drinking much means I’m a light weight! In the rain we made our way to the arena and got a spot on a slightly raised platform in the standing area. It was fab because it meant I could actually see the stage for once! Being titchy means I usually just have to do random jumps to catch a glimpse of the act! The support artist was Sigrid who we love. She was amazing and it was fun to dance and let go! Then George Ezra performed and he was amazing. He had a trumpet, saxophone and trombone player with him so there was a sort of carnival vibe to the night. Listening to live music makes me feel bloody amazing. I don’t think I stopped smiling.

It was a lovely way to spend my weekend. With my gorgeous little sister, just laughing and enjoying life.

Xx

It’s finally sunny in Cyprus

This week I’ve been joined by two of my bird ringing friends from Manchester. They chose a really good week to come because it’s finally gotten sunny and warm here in Cyprus which is nice.

On their first day we had a scout out of Sadrazamköy so I could show them the habitat there and we could figure out where to put nets up for bird ringing. On the way we stopped to take in the view and I tried to ID some flowers. There are so many beautiful ones! We also had a walk up the mountain behind the apartment. Lots of lovely flowers there too including some pretty orchids. That evening I took them to Tervetuloa for some amazing meze and Turkish food. Me and Ingrid had Imambayaldı which is aubergine stuffed with mince and veg. So Tasty!

The first day of ringing was a great success. I got to ring a new species in the form of a gorgeous male sardinian warbler. Jake had a first with a black redstart. We saw lots of linnet and Serin which was nice. They have a gorgeous song. I got a bit sunburnt on my face which wasn’t ideal. But hey ho. We enjoyed a lovely tea at Silver Rocks to finish the day off.

Rather than ring every single day we decided we’d put some European roller nest boxes up to help out with the Kuskor project. We went to a couple of villages near Boğazköy and placed them on some pylons. I hope they do well and get used. It’s always exciting to check.

This weekend we have been busy ringing again. Saturday was spent at Kukla wetlands. It was a really nice day and we caught lots of nice species. I got a ringing tick with an Eastern Bonelli’s warbler which was really special. We also saw a blue throat close to the hide and a lovely female Little crake. She was beautiful. Quite a few locals came to the hide and so I got to practice my Turkish which was good. I think I managed to chat quite well. I had a selfie with one family because I’d shown them the flamingos through my scope and they were really happy. One couple came to have some breakfast in the hide and gave us some tea to drink and some bread and cake. It was so lovely. So caring. After the ringing I decided to drive on to Famagusta so I could show them some of the wetlands. I managed to spot the Finsch’s wheatear for them which I was chuffed about.

Today we went to haspolat to do some ringing. A large flock of Serin came down to drink from the puddles in the road and so we caught a few which was nice. None of us had ringed any before. They have a gorgeous greenish yellow rump and the males have the same on the crown of their heads. Very cute.

It’s been a very busy week. Absolutely shattered now. It’s been nice to get the sun on my face. Always lovely to bird here in Northern Cyprus.

Xx

Lucky Lady Linnets.

Blog writing time again. It always comes around so quickly. This week I’ve doing lots of the same really. I’ve been doing lots of PhD work, mainly writing up a paper.

There were two nights where I just couldn’t sleep. There were huge thunderstorms right over the mountains. So considering the mountains are behind my house, not much sleep at all! Let’s face it though, there are far worse things to keep you awake. It was quite exciting listening to the build up of thunder and anticipating the next lightning flash. After two days the novelty had slightly worn off so I was glad for a good nights sleep on the third day!

I’ve done a bit of birding this week. Well, one easy one was a kingfisher I heard from my lounge. It must be taking advantage of the newly flowing ravine near the house. I also scouted out Karsiyaka headland one morning. Unfortunately because of all the water, the field was impassable, so I couldn’t make it all the way. Instead I parked up and had a wander down to the shore and saw a few stonechat, Sardinian warbler, crested lark and a couple of black redstart. It was a really lovely little cove I’d found. It had a wall of washed up sea grass nearly a metre tall at the wash line which was quite cool to see. It also had some lovely historic character. There were some old steps leading up from the beach covered by an arching oak tree, and on the wall below, there was an old, cracked, painted TRNC flag. It was a lovely, peaceful place and the sea air was nice on my cheeks.

Today I had a trip to Sadrazamköy, a piece of headland right at the far wester tip of the north coast. It’s only 40 minutes or so from home and the drive is bloody lovely. The route takes you on a winding coastal road, hardly anyone is on it, so all the flowering plants, the birds and the horizon feel like your own. Gosh it put a smile on my face. Just looking out at the flat calm sea would have been enough. But then you catch a glimpse of a perched stonechat or see a lovely cloud formation and it’s like heaven. I reached the fresh-water pool and stopped for a little bit to look for some birds. There were lots of goldfinch flitting about, many stonechats, a couple of black redstart and a gorgeous, melodic group of linnets. I stood and watched one male Linnet singing for ages. He had a lovely song. If I was a lady Linnet I would choose him to partner up with!! The site is a lot wetter than when I last went and so the frogs are taking full advantage. I spotted a few with my binoculars. One was ribbeting away, his cheeks all puffed out, he was clearly in the mood to impress his Mrs. It was lovely to spot them all peaking out of the water. Spring is coming and love is in the air!!

I’ve felt slightly cabin-fever-ish this week, so getting out this weekend has been so nice. It’s amazing what nature can do for your wellbeing. This morning, I sent my mum a morning selfie and she said it didn’t look like me because I wasn’t smiling through my eyes. If I wasn’t smiling with my eyes this morning then I certainly am now.

That’s all for now.

Xx

I’m a published scientist!

Another nice week has gone by in Cyprus. I’ve gotten PhD work done and so been sat at my desk for the majority of it. But…. I have been birding and I did go on a night out!

The best bit about this week is that my first ever scientific paper was published! Back in 2015 I went to Kenya and did research in the Aberdare National Park. I was looking at different survey methods for birds. Anyway… it’s now up for the world to see. I’m so happy and feel like I’m a proper scientist now! If you fancy a read, here is the link: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/aje.12596

I met my friend Olkan on Tuesday for a day full of birding adventure. I’ve not seen him in a while so it was really nice to catch up. One of our first stops was a small coastal stretch near Esentepe. We saw a nice group of wood larks amongst the shrubs. We both agreed that larks are a bit tricky to ID sometimes, they usually land in places where you can’t get the best view…and they are all brown and don’t have any obviously stand out features. Well, not at first glance. We had a good view of this group though and we slowly pieced together the clues so we could ID it. Mainly a white band going from above the eyes on both sides and joining at the back of the neck. Anyway, it was a nice start and so we moved on to Geçitkale with high spirits. Olkan mentioned the possibility of seeing a Finsch’s wheatear here. You can usually spot them on mounds and ridges of rubble. They like the insects creeping around on them. On the drive in we didn’t spot it and so thought we’d missed our chance, but on the way back to the main road I spotted it! Gosh it’s a gorgeous bird. Striking white and black plumage. It has an almost checkerboard style to it, like a chess board! We watched it for a while. Made sure we could see the distinctive white back. I was so chuffed, I’ve never seen one before. It filled me with a lot of joy. We continued on and went to the famagusta wetlands. We saw a good group of curlew and a grey plover which was nice. Not every day you get to see those! It was a long but lovely trip. It’s always nice going birding with someone else. It’s nice to have a shared experience, plus, two pairs of eyes means you can spot more!

For a lot of this week I’ve felt a bit sickly and washed out. I also felt really anxious. Think my body was trying to tell me to try and relax and find happiness. I woke up one morning and decided to do some yoga before anything else. I followed a video on YouTube and the instructor kept saying “and smile” throughout the practice. So I did. And I felt great. Sometimes just the act of smiling can make you feel so much better. So yesterday I was feeling my usual tiny and weird self again so I went for a bit of a solo bird in the morning. I sang along to feel good music and enjoyed being in the middle of nowhere surrounded by singing birds. I then went out with a few people that also live in Lapta. I had a few pangs of feeling very geeky. My go to conversations are about bloody wildlife and birds. I must try and remember that not everyone is a bird geek. But, my geeky ways make me who I am, so I guess people just have to deal with. I might not be that cool, but I’m my little weird self.

Anyway, I’m now a little bit hungover, more tired than anything. And I’m really craving a kebab. So I’m going to stew on the settee for a while and hope the kebab shop has some chicken doner left later.

Xx

Lone Wolf

Hello again,

This week hasn’t been too eventful really. I’ve been in doing lots of PhD work. But I did go for a birding adventure on Tuesday. I went to Kukla Wetlands here in North Cyprus. I have never seen these wetlands with water in, it’s been so dry the past few years they haven’t managed to fill up. Since the flooding a couple of months ago, this site has been thriving. I got up early and set off in the dark. I was so excited when I finally got there and I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. It was slightly misty so I think that just added to the magic. As I drove up, a vast expanse of water greeted me. Along the near edge were some hungry Coots rummaging around in the foliage. I could see a huge group of flamingos, shovelers, mallard….. I climbed up the huge hide and started to survey. I was a bit overwhelmed to be honest. I had no clue where to start. I finished the survey as the hide on the far side of the wetland. I got a better view of the various duck species here. Teal, pintail, wigeon… just me and all these gorgeous birds. I could have stayed there all day. It was so peaceful. I can’t wait to go again!

Anyway….

As I haven’t had much opportunity for adventure this week, I thought I’d talk a bit about my random way of life. I am on my own quite a lot. I am usually travelling from A to B on my own. When I’m in Cyprus I’m alone. I sometimes feel alone in England too. Everyone has their own lives to be getting on with, so when I’m back I have to try and slot myself in. I’m not saying being on my own is a bad thing. In fact, I think it has made me very strong. I can confidently and proudly say that I am extremely independent. I don’t NEED anyone else to be by my side. It’s nice if I’m around family, of course, but that’s a lovely highlight. As far as day to day living goes, I’m my own little self. I can handle myself. I’ve never been one of those people who is constantly in a relationship, in my whole life I’ve had a single boyfriend. And that was short lived. I don’t mind that. I think it helps demonstrate the type of character I am. I’m a feisty person striving for the best I can get for me. Don’t get me wrong, being on my own so much isn’t always the best, but at this time in my life it’s just the way it is for me. Sometimes I get lonely, I think anyone would. I try and think of things to occupy my mind before I start to think too deep. Usually listening to music or going for a birding trip helps. I have the best family who are always there to talk to and I have a few very close friends. That suits me. I won’t be on my own forever, someday I’ll slot into someone’s life and it will just work. But for now, I love my random life. My time to just be Amie. I know her very well.

Xx

First Barn swallow of 2019

Merhabalar! Hello hello!

This week has gone by quickly. It started off with me turning 26. It was quite an uneventful birthday. The best bit was driving with Molly to the airport and singing along to some amazing songs! I spent the day travelling on my own, but I ended up in Cyprus, so all ended well!

This week the weather has been horrid! It has been very rainy and so I’ve been stuck inside most of the time. I’ve been cracking on with my PhD writing though which is nice. Being in Cyprus gives me time to just get on with things. I have a part of my own life back. Maybe it’s a bit selfish, but sometimes it’s nice to just be me, for me.

I’ve been very glad to see a few of the cats are still around the apartment after the floods here. The feisty kitten is still around which is just lovely. For a couple of days I was also feeding a very fluffy puppy. I named him Mowgli. For some reason I had visions of him being raised by wolves…

Today I went for a bit of a drive to get out and see a bit of the sunshine we’ve had. I didn’t do any proper surveys, just fancied a mooch around and to stop if I saw anything. I saw loads of kestrels, corn bunting, serin, crested lark, white wagtail, a single chukar and two gliding barn swallows. I feel like seeing barn swallows is a little tick for my year. I know that spring is soon going to be in full swing. How exciting!! Barn swallows breed up in Europe but they over winter in Sub Saharan Africa. So each year they travel all that way, such small creatures on such big journeys. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I sometimes try and put it into perspective. I mean, I don’t think I could fly all that way!! And when they do arrive they sing and do amazing acrobatics in the sky. They just amaze me.

The bird I am most excited to see return are the swifts. Their screeches fill my heart with utter joy. I think they’re magical.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Here’s to sunnier times ahead. More birds singing. More butterflies fluttering. And more bees buzzing.

Xx