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

Birds/ ku┼člar

This week I have done lots and lots of lovely things. Most of them have involved all sorts of beautiful birds, which obviously makes me very smiley!

On Monday I went for a walk around Fernilee reservoir with my Mum. It was a bit of a dark and gloomy day but we just wrapped up warm and headed out. I took my binoculars to spy any fluttering lovelies en route. We saw the usual culprits, blue tits, great tits and coal tits…robins, blackbirds and goldfinches. But we also saw three bullfinches which was a really nice sight and also two cormorants. I was really chuffed, I took the bullfinches as a good omen, how couldn’t I? They’re just so lovely.

Tuesday wasn’t bird related but it was quite dramatic. We got snow overnight and so my Mum’s village went into a bit of chaos. Me and my Mum set off in separate cars but followed each other on the main road out, it was standstill traffic so we decided to turn around and head over the top road. My sister had already set off that way but not long after our attempt, we had to abandon the cars because it was just too icey. We managed to get my car back home and warmed up and made a plan over a cup of tea. We eventually got them back and I visited my cousin Megan and my gorgeous nephew Max before they headed back to Exeter.

Wednesday I had another avian adventure, this time with Mum, my auntie and Renee. Renee took us around her regular dog walk in Didsbury. We saw loads of ring-necked parakeets. One was perched quite close to use so I got a really good view. They’re so gorgeous but it was really weird to see them in cold Northern England! We carried on around the walking route and got to the river. My Mum spotted a male and female goosander, the first I’ve ever seen! I couldn’t stop watching them, they kept diving down to get their food. The final sighting was a gorgeous grey heron, it posed for us on a branch overhanging the river. Renee gave us some lovely homemade soup for dinner to warm us through. Such a great day.

Thursday was the best birding day I’ve had in a really long time. Me and Mum set off at half 7 in the morning to get to Martin Mere wetland reserve. We made our way around all the different hides to look at the wild birds that over winter at the mere. There were loads of whooper swans, pintail, pochard, shelduck, wigeon, black tailed godwit, ruff, cormorant, lapwing, white fronted geese, pink footed geese and greylag geese. I could have sat in the hides all day, it’s so relaxing and lovely to just watch all the birds interacting and feeding. We saw two of the whooper swans stood out of the water which meant we could see their coloured leg rings. I typed the numbers into the computer and found out that NFX that was first ringed in 2010 and has flown 27,000 miles. This equals more than once around the entire globe! Such amazing birds. The whooper swans breed in Iceland but come further south in winter. A man working at the reserve got chatting to me for ages. He told me that the male whoopers choose the wintering ground and the females choose the breeding grounds. He also drew my attention to the female pochard ducks on the mere. Female Pochards usually over winter in Spain, away from the males. But three females had been spotted at the mere, I managed to see 2 of them. They are like a muted version of the males, their colours standing out less. I love learning new things, it was really nice chatting to him. After the hides we walked around the collection area that contains species from all around the world. I think my favourites were the cape teals and the buffleheads. We made our way home and I had to quickly get ready for a bird ringing meeting. We all met at a pub to talk about our group and the months ahead. Nice to see the people I don’t normally ring with.

Yesterday evening I went to Manchester for a meal with Dad, grandpa and Aileen. We enjoyed a couple of drinks in my Grandpa’s favourite pub, Sam’s Chop House, before heading to the Bar and Grill for food. Turns out me and Grandpa aren’t that posh, we both kept dropping things or spilling things. I definitely think my conservation and field work career is the right one for me!

It’s been a really nice week. I’ve seen lots of really nice birds and enjoyed time with my lovely family. One of my friends gave me an idea a while ago. He gave me a small pebble and said that whenever I am grateful for something to touch it and think ‘thanks’ or to just think of it with the same thought. I found that pebble the other day and I feel I’ve had lots of reasons to say thanks this week. I am really thankful for my gorgeous family. I’m thankful for my lovely friends, even though most of them live ages away from me, I know they are there. I’m thankful that I’m doing what I love. I’m also really thankful that marshmallows exist.

Anyway, that’s all for now.

Xx

Wader ringing

This week has been lovely. I’ve been able to see my lovely auntie Kathy and saw my cousin Megan and my cheeky nephew Max. It’s always so nice getting to see people when you don’t get to see them a lot!

I also got some really good and exciting news this week. The research I did in Kenya for my masters has been accepted for publication. Soon it will be out for all the world to see. I’m really proud of this. This project made me realise how much I wanted to pursue a career in research and I guess it led me down the path I’m on today. When I get the final web address I’ll be posting it up here so if anyone is interested they can have a read.

The best part of my week was today. Me, Jake and Ingrid, who I usually do bird ringing with, went to North Wales to do some wader ringing with the scan ringing group. It’s really exciting because the method for catching the birds is so different to the normal mist nets we use for the song birds. This method is canon netting and involved a net being catapulted above the birds and catching them underneath. This was done on the shore line today, the target catch was oystercatcher. We waited quietly in the cars until all the birds were in the safe zone for the net to be fired. After the huge bang, we drove down the beach, got out and ran to the net. We then methodically extract all of the birds that have been caught. I had a lovely lady called Rachel helping me with the technique for extracting in this way. It’s very different from what I am used to and so I was very happy to be shown what to do. In total we caught 17 dunlin, 15 redshank and 34 oystercatcher. This was really nice because they are all different sizes and completely different to look at. When the birds are waiting to be processed they are kept in a type of holding pen where it is dark and quiet to keep them relaxed. When you put your hand inside it like a bird version of lucky dip! I’d say it was hard to choose my favourite species from today. The oystercatchers are amazing to look at up close, especially the adults. They have bright red eyes, pink feet and their bills are yellow and orange. They kind of reminded me of a calipo ice lolly! One downside though, they poo a lot and I’m afraid to say, my right leg was covered! Dunlin on the other hand don’t. These are tiny, brownish grey and white birds with dainty, slender bills. They look so beautiful up close and when they all fly together in a flock over the sea it almost reminds me of glitter. They seem to shimmer. Redshank are bigger than dunlin. Gorgeous reddish orange legs that stand tall below them, and a similar coloured beak. They look very elegant and have a gorgeous call when they are in flight. Anyway…. we enjoyed the sunshine on our faces and the nice sea air and headed back once everything was finished.

I’m now a tired little Amie. The sea air does you wonders of good but it makes me feel shattered. In a good way though.

It was such a lovely way to end the week, I’m feeling very positive about the one ahead.

Xx

How to catch a duck…. or not.

This week has gone by quickly. But it has been dotted with nice things.

I went for a nice walk with my Mum and my Sister on Tuesday. We went around Chadkirk and for once in this gloomy week, it was sunny! I saw a buzzard, grey heron, lots of long tailed tits and the usual suspects like robin, great and blue tit.

In the middle of the week I met up with my ringing group at the pub. We’re arranging a bird ringing trip to Cyprus so I was giving them both the information they needed and having a general chit chat. It was snowing very lightly up on the hills. First snow I’ve seen this year. We warmed up in the pub with a nice hot chocolate.

Yesterday morning I went to Redesmere Lake to do some mallard ringing. I’ve never ringed a duck before so I was very excited. I followed my sat nav and found the place. Jake, John and Ingrid were already there and had caught me a gorgeous female mallard. Her orange feet were so soft, I’d never even thought about ducks feet before, but they were. It was a bit rainy and the wind was cold but we threw more seed to entice more birds towards us. For this type of ringing we use a hand net and wait until one of the birds is within reach but with their bum towards us so they are looking away. Very quickly you have to reach forward and trap the bird and carefully take it out of the net. It really does have to be quick though, the slightest twitch of the net and all of the ducks will fly off. Ingrid gave it a go and after much patience caught a lovely male mallard. It was then my go, I waited and waited. Threw seed and gave them some encouragement. My opportunity came. A duck had his back towards me and was within the reach of my short arms. Unfortunately the pressure got to me and I completely fluffed it. I did it all so slowly that they had all flown off before the net even touched the ground. I guess beginners luck doesn’t exist when catching ducks! Never the less it was a lovely morning and always nice to chat up with my ringing people. We saw a great white egret and a great crested grebe too which is always a bonus.

Apart from that I’ve just been doing work, my Turkish homework and seeing my gorgeous family.

I had a lovely chat with my Grandpa the other day. He told me to make lots of dreams. Not dreams that are too ridiculous, but just make them. And go and get them. He told me that life is too fragile and that I just need to grab the nettle with my hands and go! My Grandpa isn’t one for huge conversations, so having this talk with him was lovely. It’s one I’ll remember forever.

Some of my dreams have already come true and I have plenty more to get on with.

How exciting.

Xx

Tallulah

This week has been a strange week. I was feeling all optimistic that the New Year would be full of loveliness. Cliche I know, but 2018 was so rubbish, 2019 has to be a bit better. I had a really nice New Years Eve with my friends Andy and Pete and their friends and family. It was nice to see the New Year in with a glass of red wine and some fresh out of the oven, spring rolls. I rang my Dad at midnight in a drunken daze, I just remember him laughing at me. Goodness knows why?!

New Year’s Day came and my Mum got a panicked call from my Nana saying the cat, Tallulah was missing. We searched all evening and the next day I went door to door passing out posters of our little love. A lady caught my attention and said she’d found her in her garden. She had been killed in her kids football net. Poor little thing. I was really upset and luckily this lady gave me a hug to calm me down. I took Tallulah home in a box and told my Nana, Grandad and Mum the sad news. Tallulah was a character from the day I found her. She was originally from Cyprus, I found her at the Turtle Project base when I was working there. My Mum took her in because she was living over in Cyprus at the time. Since then, the tiny, flea ridden kitten grew to be a gorgeous, sassy companion. She kept my Mum company over in Cyprus and then when we flew her back to the UK she gave her love to my Nana. We’re so sad our moody but loving cat has gone, I’ve never known any animal quite like her.

So as you can imagine, it wasn’t a great start to the new year. A nice distraction was having my friend Tom visit for the day. I took him on a couple of my favourite walks and showed him a tour of Amie’s life! We went to Etherow Country Park and it was nice to see 7 cormorants as well as 5 tufted duck! I also got quite close to a couple of eager pigeons which put a smile on my face.

This weekend my Nana decided she needed another cat because the house was too quiet for her and grandad without one. We chose Lilly from a local sanctuary. She’s settling in fine, even if I have got a few scratches. I think I pushed my luck when I tried to tickle her tummy!

I’ve just been on a drizzle filled walk with my Dad to once again feed the ducks. We came across some really weird geese hybrids. Pretty sure they’d been crossed with a turkey. The tufted ducks were still there and the cormorants too. Nice to see as always.

After a dramatic week I’m looking forward to life calming down again. The Christmas and New Year period really turns everything upside down. I want to just crack on with work now and feel the inspiration of the new times ahead.

That’s all for now.

Xx

Christmas is coming

Not written a blog post for a couple of weeks. I’ve been all out of sync with staying at my Aunties and being out of routine. Although, whenever I am in England I don’t tend to have much of a routine anyway…. oh well.

So the second week of dog sitting was fine. We went on lots of lovely walks and had a few more settee cuddles with them both. I have to admit though, I think I am definitely a cat person. Dogs are lovely and give amazing cuddles, but I can’t deal with the hair and the dog smell and the jumping up. A lovely thing is that they make you go for walks and so I saw a few woodpeckers, some goldcrests and lovely sunsets!

The Christmas spirit is slowly arriving. I have now helped decorate 4 trees! Mums, Nana and Grandads, Grandpas and Dads are now twinkley. I’ve eaten 2 mince pies, drank a glass of mulled wine and eaten lots of chocolates. I mean, I have three advent calendars!!! The Christmas films are slowly but surely being viewed. Although I still have a few of my all time favourites to watch! The Grinch is the winner of course. I’m waiting until Molly has an evening off before I watch that though!

Now on a slightly more serious note… this week in Cyprus there has been severe flooding caused by a hurricane that swept through the island. People have been killed in the devastation and there are still people missing. Roads, buildings and cars have been completely destroyed. As well as people’s homes and precious possessions. Seeing the videos and photos of the place I now consider home was really upsetting. We later found out that my Mum’s apartment had been flooded, luckily most of it was soaked up by the soft furnishings! I actually wrote an email to BBC news hoping that they might report on this disaster but I never even got a reply. I am quite disappointed actually. We always get shown such biased news. I feel like this should have been highlighted, maybe to get help for all the people who will have lost so much and can not afford to fix it. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus isn’t a rich part of the world and these people who are so caring, generous and kind have lost so much. I guess if you aren’t Russia, the US or anyone discussing Brexit (which is a bloody shambles) then it doesn’t really matter, right?

Anyway, rant over. To finish my week I enjoyed several hours of bird ringing this morning. I met Jake and Ingrid at 7 to put up the nets and get sorted. A new trainee called Caroline joined us, she swears a lot but so do I, so it was quite funny hearing her call a Blackbird a ****head for biting its own tail! We got a really nice variety of bird species today and some that I haven’t handled in a while. Siskin, goldcrest, Reed bunting, Redwing, bullfinch, goldfinch, greenfinch, great tit, coal tit, blue tit, dunnock, and a gorgeous Robin! I love bird ringing because it takes my mind off of everything, so it’s nice to de-stress and just be outside. My fingers always go a little bit numb, I guess that’s part of the fun!

Xx

A week of walks

On Tuesday I came back to the U.K., leaving my Cyprus home for a couple of months to be around my gorgeous family. That meant leaving over 20 degree heat and sunshine for the very chilly and grey Manchester weather. I can’t complain though. I absolutely love jumpers and so now that I am back I get to pick a different one everyday and wrap up with a scarf and mittens!!

It was so nice coming home and getting cuddles off my sister and Dad and seeing my Nana and Grandad and my Grandpa. This time of year we all just sit with a brew and enjoy cozy chats inside. Perfect.

I’ve been staying with my Mum at my aunties house since being back. We’re house sitting and dog sitting the lovely Henry and boystrous Bruno. I get very heavy but cosy cuddles every evening and enjoy lots of walks with them. I’ve nearly been pulled over a couple of times when Bruno spotted a squirrel, but luckily I have stayed up right every time!

It’s been really nice hearing some birds that I don’t get to hear in Cyprus. Blue tits are usually calling their ferocious little call, wrens trill away and a great spotted woodpecker gave us a performance too. Makes me smile.

Saturday me and Mum went to the Christmas markets in Manchester to meet Elisa. She’s Molly’s hippie godmother and she’s lovely! We sat and enjoyed some mulled wine and ate some gorgeous garlic mushrooms!

This morning and family visits I went for a super quick visit to my favourite bird ringing site. It was a huge pay off. Not only did I get to handle some old favourites and chat with my lovely team, but I also got a ringing tick in the form of a gorgeous female Brambling as well as a huge slice of cake freshly baked by Ingrid! Today I had my cake and ate it too!

My cheeks have felt very rosy this week and I’m happy to be surrounded by my family. I’m a lucky lady!

Xx

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