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

Oh what a beautiful week.

I am writing this as I listen to the Motown Party playlist on Spotify. Pretty much sums up my mood from this week, utterly joyful!

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After writing my last post I headed out for a drive. A drive in the small jeep that has no roof and no windows. I got caught in a storm and was pelted with grape sized hail stones. My little fave didn’t know what had hit it, literally! I managed to pull over, I was absolutely soaked and frozen. A bakery nearby had it’s lights on so I knocked on the door and they let me in. They were such kind people. They opened their big bread ovens and let me stand in front to get warm. They gave me lots of tissues to try and dry off. They just wanted to help me. This was all done with little communication due to the language barrier. Before I left they made a dress for me to wear out of a bin bag. If there was another downpour, I now had a shield! This is why I love this Island, the people are just glorious.

Anyway…

The start of the week was the creation of a memory I will never ever forget and something I have wanted to do for a really long time….. SKINNY DIP! And it wasn’t a drunken escapade in the middle of the night, but a glorious bathe in the warm mediterranean sea in the warm October sun in a beautiful bay. I was very happy and had a huge smile on my face. It’s a beautiful thing to do.

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Anyway, less naked-ness. I went birding by myself this week. I took myself and the scope to Kalkanli and Korucam wetlands. Unfortunately Korucam was completely dry, but Kalkanli had a nice array of species to admire. Teal, Shoveler, Mallard, Little Egret and lots of Coot. I was so happy when I was on my solo adventure. I smiled and sang and didn’t give a damn about anything. I bloody love my life, I love everyone in it and I love being the solo weirdo that I am!

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This week I still had my auntie Karen, Jenny and Renee visiting which was lovely. Wednesday night was quiz night again and we came up from being last in the first half to coming third overall by the end!!! Silver Rocks Sunnies smashed it. I think the anagram round (in which we got them all!!!) helped a lot. And obviously our vast knowledge of British Kings and Queens……

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On the last night of their visit we went to one of my favourite restaurants, Tervetuloa. The owner, Afet, is one of the coolest women I have ever met and the meze her mother makes is to die for! Stuffed courgette flowers are a delight and a zingy citrus dip was a nice addition. Lovely! I tried a dish I’ve never had before, a traditional Cypriot dish called Macaronie. It is long pieces of macaroni pasta mixed with minced lamb and herbs and topped with a soufle type of cheese sauce. Simple but bloody delicious! Although apparently I have the stomach the size of a Cyprus warbler’s and didn’t eat a lot. I saved it for the next day!

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The morning the girls were leaving we took a drive to Horseshoe bay further west of Lapta along the coast. We expected a lovely ramble along the coast but were left pretty depressed by the sheer amount of plastic everywhere. Honestly, it is a disgrace. Baby wipes, plastic bottles, cigarette butts…. I could go on. I found a plastic bag in a bush and filled it with what I could. I couldn’t help think I was fighting a losing battle. But I guess every little helps. If you are reading this, please try and think of one way you could reduce single use plastic… Instead of plastic water bottles use a re-usable metal one. Instead of baby wipes use cotton wool and water. We share this planet and we are treating it dreadfully. It’s selfish and unnecessary.

Anyway…..

The girls headed off and so to cure my glum mood I went to Roots bar in the evening. As usual I got drunk on various shots and rum and cokes. It was a reggae party and so the atmosphere was really fun. Love that place and my little family there.

I have throughly enjoyed this week. I have smiled at lots of little things.

Here’s to another week of smiles and loveliness.

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

Didn’t you know?… I yacht now.

Hello! Merhaba!

What a fantastic week I have had. It’s weeks like this that make me very happy that my life is so wonderfully weird.

I started my week boarding a yacht. Yes, that’s right, scruffy ol’ me went yachting!!! I was on the yacht with Captain Unal, Alex, Doug and Sarah. All gorgeous people. We made a really nice team. I joined the team in the evening and we went for some food at a local place. I had a salad with loads of chopped up walnuts which was really tasty. We also got a complementary plate of cooked sheep head so I gave that a try. Let’s just say…I shan’t be having it again. But still, it’s good to try new things! Our first night was spent in Les Ambassedeurs Marina in Girne. I had the double bed in the main part of the boat! The titchiest team member and the one with the biggest bed! Can’t complain eh? It was a slightly swaying nights sleep, but amazing none the less. I did wake up at one point though and completely forget where I was. Bit weird!

The next day we all woke up and had a lovely breakfast on deck before we headed off. I still couldn’t believe I was on a sailing yacht! Actually, I should explain. We were all on the boat to take part in seabird and marine mammal surveys. We had to sail along transects and count and ID anything we saw. It was a beautiful first day. The wind was on our side and so we got to do a fare bit of sailing rather than use the motor. Unal is an amazing Captain, full of character and so skilled! We saw Scopoli’s shearwaters, honey buzzards, marsh harrier…Perfect. That first day was also really nice to get to know everyone. We all had really different stories but got on well. I think my main addition to the team was my energy. I was very excited and I think Unal appreciated the buzz! We sailed west and then south the first day, all the way to Yesilmak. We anchored up in a small bay and me and Alex jumped into the sea! The sun was just starting to set, the sea was warm and we got given a wedge of watermelon each to munch on. Probably one of the best moments I’ve had all year. You can’t imagine moments like that, they just happen and when they do, you have to smile and embrace the magic. Back on board we ate tea, shared more stories and watched the stars. Scorpio, Mars and Venus were out in all their glory that night.

The second night on the boat was slightly more rocky. I was woken up a few times with big rolls from the waves, but it was quite exciting and different. We enjoyed another nice breakfast and then headed back to Girne, taking a different course closer to shore. We saw loggerhead turtles, Yelkouan and Scopoli’s shearwaters, turns, ducks, waders. Fab! Doug is a very experienced birder, he was a warden for the RSPB before he retired and so it was brilliant to get little nuggets of his knowledge. We had an in-depth discussion about hobbies and merlins. Aaah the life of a birder. We got back to the marina in the evening, Doug and Unal came back home with me to have a quick shower and freshen up. I said bye to Alex and Sarah before we left. It was weird not being with everyone, we’d had a lovely adventure. That evening I couldn’t stop swaying. The land is still and constant, the sea is constantly changing and unpredictable. My little head was a bit all over the place, I just needed a good nights sleep.

The rest of the week was spent doing PhD work and having a break at Silver rocks for a swim and to get some Turkish practice! I may have mentioned my yacht adventure once or twice….

Friday night came around and I got to see lots of my favourite people. I drove over to Esentepe to meet my Cyprus parents Michelle and Paul (and their new addition, Maisie the puppy). Always so lovely to see them both, we enjoyed a drink and a chat before heading to Roots. Anyone that keeps on top of reading my blogs will know how special this bar is to me. Some of my best nights have been in this bar, and the people there are out of this world. Ash, Hannah, Veysel, Katie, Aydn…The whole team was there and I got to spend an evening with lots of smiling faces. I did have shots and I did have rum and cokes. And yes, I was drunk. The night ended at Michelle and Paul’s, eating pizza and talking about all sorts.

Woke up in the afternoon! Had a few hours with Michelle and Paul, eating amazing bacon-y breakfast, fussing over Maisie and just enjoying the company. Headed home at about 3. I got home and made more plans. One of my favourite humans was back out in Cyprus for a few days, Sav!! I arranged to meet up with him and Alex that evening, have a BBQ at Robbo and Damla’s and have beer! We did just that. Me and Sav then went to a music festival in the old town of Lefkosia. It was an amazing setting and the stage we settled at was home to a soul band playing motown. I was in my element. Again, shots were had. When the band finished there was a spot of breakdancing. I’ve never seen it before, it was so impressive! I feel like they must scrape their heads a lot though, they’re always spinning on them! Eventually we made our way back to Sav’s place. It was a lot more difficult to find a taxi than we had hoped, but luckily my “superb Turkish skills” came into practice. I got us back. Sav just drank beer!

This morning and into the early afternoon I just enjoyed being with Sav and Alex. I made us Halloumi and salad sandwiches and after a good re-fuel was ready to make the journey back home. I drove home with the windows down and my music loud. I sang and I smiled. What a fantastic week.

I feel very cheeky this week. Is it fair that I have so many gorgeous people in my life? Not just my amazing family, but my friends. Pretty sure I’ve hit the jackpot? Anyway, I’m wrapping up this week listening to “Above the cloud’s of Pompeii” by Bears Den and I’m smiling at being in the present. It’s pretty damn good.

xx

Güzel Kıbrıs

I’ve been back in Cyprus for 2 weeks now and I love it. The weather is still so so hot, the sea is warm and the sky is my favourite shade of blue.

I’ve been busy doing PhD work, got lots of writing to do at the minute! I also got the reviews back for my first paper I have ever submitted!!!!! The reviews are positive and so not much to edit before we send it off again. I’m starting to feel like a proper scientist!

Mum and Beth came out for a week which was lovely. We went to the coast a lot and so I got to see lots of migrating birds. It was Glossy ibises at the start of the week, but by the end it was flocks of Grey herons. One day was really windy and they fought for a while to get going. They were determined though and just came further to the shore. I got a brilliant view!

One new thing I tried this week was a visit to a casino. I have to say, I really didn’t enjoy it. I just don’t understand how people get sucked into it? It’s literally just a place to go to lose money. And i don’t have money to lose! It was interesting people watching. But the staff there don’t like you just standing around, so I just didn’t feel relaxed. At least I can say I’ve done it though. And I guess I know I’m not a gambler, which is a relief!

It’s been lovely to see friends. I have Ahmet, Mehmet and Osman who help me practice Turkish. Afet who makes the best meze on the island and who also helps me with my Turkish! Janet and Keith who are the most gorgeous brummy couple in existence! And loads more. I haven’t even been over to the other side of Girne yet…. Roots is waiting for me!!

Me and Mum have been taking a lot of plastic out of the sea. One thing really annoyed me… we had a small crowd watching us, and after we cleared a lot of it people then went to swim. But they just swam past plastic bags and things and didn’t take them out?!?! Do people not realise that they are going to end up being eaten by marine life? If you think it’s dirty then take it out and wash your hands, that’s better than leaving it for something to eat!!!! Urgh!!!!

Anyway… sorry to rant…

To sum up. Cyprus is glorious. I’m happy to be here and learning the Turkish language and eating the scrumptious food!!

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