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

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

Birds/ kuşlar

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