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

A weekend in Istanbul

Since my last post I have been in Cyprus getting back to normal life and slowly but surely getting more of my PhD finished. I left the first smattering of snow in england and got back to a relatively warm and sunny Lapta. Very nice! I’ve been doing a lot of solo birding and practicing my Turkish which is fab!

This weekend I went on a mini adventure to meet my friend and have a change of pace. It was lovely to see him and to meet his various extended family members. We were staying in the Asian side of Istanbul, different than the last time I stayed there. We were right near the coast and the air was lovely and fresh. Loads and loads of sea birds around too! Mainly gulls and cormorants. We had a lovely sea food maze the first night with his cousin and his other cousins girlfriend. A couple of raki’s were added to the mix too, although to my surprise I didn’t get drunk! We stayed there until closing and then headed home. It was a lovely evening, and although most people don’t speak much English, I don’t even care. They tried to chat with me as much as they could and it was super helpful for my Turkish practice.

The next day (10th) is a special day in Turkish culture. It is the Remembrance Day of Ataturk, who is know as the Father of the Turks. This is the day he passed away and so the day is spent remembering him and his accomplishments. I watched a quick documentary in the morning, and I didn’t realise how much he pushed women’s rights forward. He actively encouraged women to have the right to vote and to be a more present part of communities. Anyway… in the afternoon we headed to Heybeliada island, one of the princess islands off of Istanbul. It’s a gorgeous island and home to a few extended family members. We had lovely home cooked food and I tried chatting with the Grandma in my limited Turkish. She was full of smiles. When it came to leave I got a huge cuddle which was lovely. I felt like one of the family! We then hopped on a little buggy type vehicle and had a whirlwind your by moonlight of the island. It was gorgeous. I’d love to see it in summer. We then hopped back on the ferry and then got back home. The night ended playing a street fighter game on the PlayStation, turns out I was pretty good!

Today we just chilled out, had food, chilled some more and then I had to head to the airport. He said my Turkish had come on quite well so I was chuffed. Just need to practice practice practice.

One of my highlights of the trip, although really geeky, is that I got to see my first every laughing doves. They are delicate looking birds and all around the pavements of Istanbul. So lovely. There’s lots of cats I got to fuss over too!

All in all it was a gorgeous weekend with gorgeous people and I miss it already. But back to my Cyprus home I go.

Girls on tour

This past week I’ve had my Mum, Auntie and their friends here to stay!! It’s been so lovely to have the apartment filled with laughs! We’ve enjoyed time at the sea side, tasty meals and wavey swims!

Earlier in the week me and Mum went to Haspolat wetland for the morning. We saw so many lovely birds, I even got a lifer with a gorgeous black tailed godwit! Mum was over the moon with all the bee eaters about. She shouted “love you” to them as we left. We could always hear them before seeing them. But they are gorgeous either way. We treated ourselves to a Mardo’s ice cream on the way home!!

On Wednesday evening we went to the quiz night at Rose Garden. We didn’t win but we didn’t come last, so that was a bonus!! Haha I had my first ever egg and chips! What a simple but bloody lovely meal!!

Thursday was windy and the sea was really wavey! Me, Mum, Karen and Jane went for a quick dip to enjoy the waves. We were getting very wrapped up in sea weed and didn’t go too far out! There’s been a gorgeous kingfisher around all week. He flits from one side of the bay to the other. The wavey day was the best day. We saw him perch and fish!!! Jenny has never seen one before so it was great for her to watch him!!

One afternoon me and Mum took Renee for an ice cream. When in Cyprus, you have to try Mardo’s!! They had my favourite flavour in! Rose!!! I haven’t seen it anywhere for so many years!! I was so chuffed.

I’ve fallen in love with two cats and have taken it upon myself to call them Carl and Felicity. They’re so beautiful!! Wish I could keep them!!

Mum left at Friday lunch time, and so to drown my sorrows I went to Roots bar for drinks! They had a really good acoustic band on and I just enjoyed catching up with friends! I met one of Paul and Michelle’s friends, Lynne. She was lovely! Shame those two weren’t with us!

All day Saturday I was hungover. Urgh.

Missing my Mumma. But I’ll be seeing her again soon! Still nice to have Karen, Renee and Jenny here! My three fairy godmothers!!

Xx

Honey Buzzards

I’ll keep it short and sweet this week.

I’ve been busy doing PhD work this week. A couple of times I made lovely banana pancakes with fried hallumi and that was the highlight for those days!!

This week I have seen hundreds of Honey buzzards on migration. It’s amazing to watch. The first big group I saw nearly made me cry!! They have spent their summer in Europe and are now heading back, from Turkey, to tropical Africa. You can look out to sea and see them all coming for the land. As soon as they get close to shore the air temperature gets warmer and they take advantage of the thermals and start to soar. They really are gorgeous.

I’ve also seen lots of grey herons migrating too. They form more uniform V shapes than the buzzards’ random groups and look very prehistoric! They’re usually heading west, parallel to the coast.

Aside from birds, I went to my first ever ballet this week at Girne amphitheatre! I watched Zorba the Greek. Wasn’t sure entirely was the story was, but the dancing was very impressive. And to be honest, being in an amphitheatre was pretty special!! I just kept looking up into the sky and watching the bats flitting above busily.

On Friday the apartment was invaded by 5 loud, laughing and lovely ladies! My mum, auntie and three friends have come out for a holiday! It’s been a happy couple of days so far and nice to have company!!

That’s it for this week.

Xx

Kıbrıs life

It’s been two weeks since my last post and it’s all been lovely. My Mum has been out so I’ve had some company for my birding!

We finally finished checking all the Roller nest boxes. Gosh they poo lots!! I was pointing out different species along the way. We saw some glossy ibis which was nice and my Mum’s favourite, Bee eaters!

I’ve done a few wetland surveys but it’s really strange doing them at this time of year! So many are completely dry! But they still have spur winged plovers hanging around. The best one I’ve done in this stay is Agluga. 100’s of cattle egret nesting, a few black-crowned night heron and my first ever Squacco heron! It was amazing!

Me and Mum have enjoyed our mountain wanders too. Early mornings are so calm and peaceful.

One night we went to Roots Bar and met up with Paul and Michelle. We played loads of pool and the next day was pretty much a write off for me!! Damn rum and cokes!!!

In between I’ve been doing PhD work. Starting to look at some interesting results now which is always exciting! Preparing for the conference next month.

Sav came back so I got to see him a few times which was lovely. He came over to watch the football with us all. My first England match of the World Cup! It’s coming home! Our tradition of hungover banana pancakes was maintained.

So this past fortnight has been pretty lovely. I do have to say though, I had one occasion where I got pretty upset about the state of the sea one day and the amount of plastic that was in it. The surface was covered. Me and my Mum went in a collected as much as we could for an hour. We filled a bag and five cups. I won’t rant. All I want to say is that we can all reduce, reuse and recycle.

Earth is beautiful and we are ruining it.

Anyway…

Home tomorrow and I get to hug all my gorgeous family! And escape this intense Cypriot heat….

Xx

Roller-ing with the punches

Another glorious week in Cyprus (a.k.a my favourite place in the world).

I’ve filled my time with birds, PhD work and friends. Can’t complain eh?! Monday was the day for my first wetland surveys since being back. I went to two near the West coast of the Island. It was lovely just going by myself. I listened to my music and just embraced the sunshine. It was really windy that day so at one point I just lifted my arms into the air and let the wind hold me up. I laughed, I think it’s good to laugh by yourself. Bird species weren’t out of the ordinary, a lot of coots, some mallards, little grebes and moorhens. There was a gorgeous kestrel scanning the hillside at one site. I watched her for a while. That night I went and stayed with my friend Penny. We had a lovely meze and a few rum and cokes!

Wednesday was probably my favourite day since being back here. I met up with Damla in the morning and we went and checked a lot of Roller nest boxes for chicks to ring. Rollers are probably the most magnificent looking bird on the island, well, either them or bee eaters! (Google both of them because they are beautiful and might just make your day!!). Quite a lot of the nest boxes had chicks. Some of them were pretty huge and had all there turquoise feathers in full show. I won’t lie, Rollers may look beautiful, but of all the birds I have handled (50 species or so!) they are the species that like to poo the most!!! Beautiful yet smelly. They keep their nests very simple. They just line the bottom with a bit of sediment and that is all. No little basket of straw or anything like that. Essentially they just make themselves a little carpet. One nest box just had a skeleton of a chick. It’s things like that that remind you how brutal the animal world is. It is literally a matter of life or death. After an exhausting day I went to Roots Bar to see my fantastic Roots family and Michelle and Paul. It was a fun night filled with laughs. I stayed at Michelle and Paul’s house that night, I think it is safe to say they are my Esentepe parents! The next morning we sat and watched the sea and talked about all sorts. One of my favourite mornings.

Friday morning was more Roller nest box checks. I went with a fellow Kuskor guy, Paul. We checked 8 new boxes but none of them had chicks. Maybe next year…. Had another night at Roots to see Michelle and Paul again. And I got a recipe for raspberry tequila! Need to try that!

Sunday was another Roller day. Me and Paul went and checked 13 nest boxes. 3 of them had Roller chicks! One of them was only a titchy one and it was accompanied by another unhatched egg. It was a pretty long morning but it was nice to get to see the lovely chicks. We also saw a small group of Hoopoe’s which was a nice surprise. (Another bird you should definitely google!). I went for a quick swim at Alagadi to cool off and then went for tea at Roots and watched a bit of an acoustic act that were playing. Didn’t stay too long though. Wanted to get home and relax!

In between all of this birding stuff, it has been election week for Turkey this week. Every day I have heard car horns beeping and music blaring. One day I was caught in a traffic jam of people rallying for their favourite candidate. People literally sit in their cars with their hazard lights on, waving flags and beeping a lot. It was making me smile. They’re very passionate about it. I finally got out of the traffic jam and saw a man riding his horse on a grass covered round-about. I laughed a little bit. I love this Island. It is so random and so unique and it just makes me happy. If I am having a rubbish day there is always something that makes me smile. Yesterday my smiles came from the waves. I waded into the sea and just jumped the waves for a while. Every now and then a big one would could and nearly knock me flying! I laughed to myself again. I think I need to start doing that every day. Find something to laugh about. Even if it’s just myself!

I’m already looking forward to what this week brings me!

X

Rooted to Cyprus

So I’m back again. Back in one of my favourite places in the world. Gorgeous, happy Cyprus. I’ve not written a blog post for a couple of weeks. I’ve been too busy!

I had a lovely little stint at home. Seeing my family is so special and the weather was nice for a change which is a huge bonus!!! My nephew Max is a dream and growing up too fast!! I swear next time I see him he will probably be taller than me!

I came to Cyprus a week ago and am loving it. This week has been nice because I’ve had loads of time to do Uni work. I have a little routine, I get up early and do computer work and then I head to the sea in the afternoon for a swim and a soaking of sunshine. Not a bad life really.

Hearing the Cetti’s warblers in the morning makes me smile. You can hear them and their poetic outbursts in most places in Cyprus. Lovely.

I’ve been doing a lot of snorkelling this week which has been really relaxing. It’s just me and the fish and you just forget everything for half an hour or so. The only thing that disturbs the serenity is the plastic. Each snorkel trip I always grab as much as I can. One less plastic bag for a sea creature to eat!!

I’ve also had some wonderful experiences with bats since being back. When I go to sleep I have my curtains open so I can see the stars (helps me fall asleep). I was looking at them the other night and all of a sudden, loads of bats starting whizzing past the window. It was amazing! They’re there every night and I get so watch their acrobatic performances. Much better than counting sheep!! When I was at Roots bar on Friday, Ash pointed out all the fruit bats in the tree. Loads of them, clutching to the putter branches ready for take off. I’ve never seen bats to clearly! I’ll always remember it.

Speaking of Roots bar. I’ve been able to go a couple of times since being back. I’ve ended up pretty damn drunk both times. It’s fantastic there. I feel like one of the gang now. Ash and Hannah, the owners, are bloody gorgeous. Such an amazing place. On Friday they had live music on so I went on my own to get out and have a lovely Cyprus night. Penny, a friend of mine from Alagadi, was there and so I may have persuaded her into a tequila or two! After most people left a water fight broke out. I got away with only a wet bum and back after an attack from Veysel. Katie, Ash and Veys were soaked! It was a lovely night, one of those that just make you smile.

I’m so so happy to be back here. I’m practicing my Turkish which is really useful and I get to be on this magical island again!

Love it!!!!

Xx

Ciao Italia

It’s that time of week again. Another blog post full of more glorious adventures! This past week I have been in 4 different countries, all so different but all with their own unique charm.

The week started off in Poland. In the early hours of the morning on Monday Beth and I woke up and got a taxi to Poznan bus station. Our bus left at 04:00 and by 09:00 we had arrived in Berlin. I slept for most of the journey and didn’t even realise we’d gone through the border! We had a few hours to kill once we were in Germany. I had my huge 20kg bag and smaller rucksack so I couldn’t be much of a tourist. We decided to walk the 2 mile walk to Charlottenburg Palace. Such a bad decision. My little legs had had enough by the time we got there. And my hips were so bruised from the huge bag! It was hot and I was tired! The palace is beautiful though. To be honest, Berlin is beautiful. There are trees everywhere and the architecture is grand and elegant. Lovely balconies all around that I wouldn’t mind sitting on and enjoying a good brew and a biscuit! Anyway, we left the palace and headed to the airport. Checked in and got food. I decided to get Käserkrainer which is a cheese filled sausage. They recommended it with potato salad with a dash of extra black pepper. It was lovely! We boarded and headed to Italy.

We arrived in Naples and headed for a taxi to take us to our hotel. The driver was lovely, he had an app on his phone so he could translate what he wanted to say into English. We had a good conversation actually! We arrived at our hotel, Hotel Joyfull, checked in and headed to the city. Another taxi and more exposure to the crazy driving that seems to be the Italian way. We passed one of the 5 castles in Naples. Had a glimpse of the narrow streets of the old city. It was a place of energy. We got dropped off at L’Antica Pizzeria de Michele. Apparently the most famous pizza place in Naples, which is the home city of pizza! There was a ticket system to get a table, but even though the queue was about 50 people, we were still seated within half an hour! There are two choices of pizza and three choices of drink, marinara or margarita with a glass of coke, beer or water. We shared one of each type of pizza. I can’t do justice to how delicious the pizzas were. The crusts were thin but doughey, and the tomatoes sauces were rich and yet slightly sweet. The mozzarella can speak for itself. It was a meal for the Gods! After the pizza we had a little explore of Naples. We went through Spaccanapoli, the old part of Naples. It was full of history and character, tiny alley ways with washing hung from every balcony. The smell of cooking filling the air. We came across the Cathedral too. A great first impression of Italy.

Up early and down for a breakfast of Italian pastry. I tried Sfogliatelle, a layered pastry filled with a sweet creamy sauce. After a refuel we headed to the Port, to get a bus. It was a 5km walk but it meant we got a better view of the city. Most shops have tiny stalls outside filled with different breads and pastry. People walk through the streets drinking a quick espresso en-route. Mopeds wiz by and car drivers constantly beep their horns. We arrived at the bus station, bought our tickets and got on the bus headed for Pompeii.

35 minutes and a quick nap later and we had arrived. We bought our tickets and headed in. The city entrance is a huge archway, with a steep road leading up to it. A huge wall surrounds the city as part of its defences. When you enter it is a maze. It has been preserved and excavated so well. It felt as though it was still a thriving Roman hub. Poppies were in flower and found space to grow in the old house plots. Mount Vesuvius was in the backdrop, powerful and threatening but at the same time magnificently beautiful. My favourite part of the whole trip was seeing the statue of the Centurion. He was a huge metallic figure, standing guard of the city. His presence gave a really warm, protective feel. I could go on and on, but there is too much to tell. You should go. It’s incredible. After the city of Pompeii we had lunch and I finally tried proper Italian ice cream. We headed back to the hotel after a long hot day of history! I had a traditional pasta dish called Penne Genovease. It’s an onion based sauce found mainly in the Napoli region. It was lovely.

Next day and another early morning. This time we were heading to Amalfi to see the gorgeous villages hanging onto the beautiful coastline. It took around 2 hours. I got talking to a lovely Italian guy who gave me information on how to get back later on and where to find the best ice cream. The drive to Amalfi really was beautiful. The towns are literally embedded into sheer cliff faces. I’m pretty sure magic must have been involved in the making of them. Where there aren’t houses there are lemon trees, with lemons the size of my head! The bright yellow and blue of the sea is something from a perfect dream. We spent the day sunbathing and relaxing on the pebbles. I was a bit of a wimp and only went waist deep in the sea though…

After more ice cream we started the very long journey back to Naples. It took a winding, two hour bus journey and a hot and sticky 2 hour train journey to get back. It would have been bad but the views just made me smile. We eventually got back to Hotel Joyfull and packed ready for our early flight home the next day.

After a long morning of travelling I got back to the UK. After so many different countries I was finally home. I spent the first day with my beautiful little sister. We chatted all day, ate amazing food for tea and relaxed on the settee together until we both fell asleep. I got to see my amazing Dad too. He gives the best cuddles and we always laugh. It makes me happy to see them. I’ve been able to see most of my family which has been lovely, most of my cousins and my gorgeous nephew, grandparents and the various pets! I’ve loved every second.

Being back home for this short break is lovely. It’s like pressing a reset button. You get a full charge of hugs and cuddles. A full dose of northern charm. So many brews you can only ever taste tea. And the kindest smiles you could wish for. I love being home and I love all my home people. It’s nice to have so many people to miss and so many people I get to look forward to seeing.

I’m one lucky bird.

2 hangovers in 1 weekend

This week has been lovely. As usual. The weather is still lovely and the birds are still singing.

I was in the office during the week doing PhD work. It’s always lovely to see everyone. And I also had another Turkish lesson. Slowly but surely I will get there!

A nice mid week treat came in the form of home made cookies and shisha. Donata has her own shisha set so we enjoyed an evening on the balcony smoking and drinking kwass. Kwass is a Lithuanian bread drink. It’s weirdly tasty! I love evenings like that, when it’s nice and warm and the sun sets really slowly. We had a lovely chat and just relaxed.

On Friday my friend Beth arrived. She wanted to come and visit Poznan again and have a mini adventure with me! We’ve been enjoying Poznan night life! On Friday and Saturday we went out in the old square. In the normal Amie style, I had lots of tequila and danced my sandals off! I also decided to try and speak as much Polish as I possibly could. Alcohol definitely makes me more confident in languages!

We leave Poznan tomorrow. It’s been so lovely seeing all of my people in this part of the world. But I can’t stay in one place for too long. Time to move again. Next stop is Naples!