Thursday 4 August 2016

A Massive Thank You to the Birders of Aberdeen


I am feeling so good today . . .  must be the lack of sleep.

I want to say a massive thank you to the birders of Aberdeen that have helped over the last few days.

Ian and Penny, thank you. It was great to meet you Tuesday and last night. Ian I hope you get to see the American white-winged scoter.

Paul and Nick, thanks you. The combination of the both of you yesterday gave me not only a fabulous new bird for the year, the fore-mentioned scoter sp. but also a lifer.

After almost seven hours looking for the mega rare duck without a telescope I returned to Aberdeen Youth Hostel. Within half an hour of getting there, The Oracle - Phil Andrews phoned. "Get back there!" Twenty two minutes later I found that Paul was waiting for me just off the A90 along the road that leads down to Murcar Golf Course. We swopped valuable items, he had my bike and I had his Swarowski telescope. Good swop. Paul then left to go and play football having seen the AWW scoter. I walked down to the road, declining his kind offer of a carbon lift, and crossed the greens to the sand quarry that he had recommended. A phone call from Nick and a wave from a very distant figure further south. Nick had the scoter in front of him and so a trek down the beach was required. A very small seal cub was on the beach, which was a bit worrying. Nick's scope gave the lifer and year tick whilst he chatted and gave a running commentary of the duck's movement among velvet and common scoter, red-breasted mergansers and eider.
Thanks Nick

Two wonderful birders that alleviated the problem of no scope searching for a mega. Bird number 270 secured.
Paul & I celebrating the duck.

Paul returned at 8.31pm, a minute late (Monty Python fans will know what I mean). Items swopped back and a chat, a cycle back to youth hostel to prepare for the night. Lights on the bike, masses of flouresence and a ride through Aberdeen centre to a lighthouse where Will and Mark arranged a petrel ringing session. Eight birders comfortable on folding chairs, midnight darkness, stars and satellites, Will walked back from the large mist net with the first of three storm petrels in his hand. Bird number 271. Ian and Penny were there as well, Paul and two birders who's names I didn't jot down. (sorry)

3.00am - back at the hostel and bed.

Now waiting for the afternoon ferry to Orkney! Yo Ho Rinny!!!

Tuesday 2 August 2016

Donations, Thanks and Sponsorship

Tuesday 2nd August

Thanks to everyone who sent Get Well Soon messages. Appreciated. Feeling a bit better and I cycled to Alford yesterday so back on the road again. Hopefully I will see the American white-winged scoter today near Aberdeen.
Meanwhile I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has either donated using the Justgiving links, given me money by stopping me on my travels and feeding Ricky the Robin on the bike or by saying that they would sponsor me so much a bird and pay at the end of the year when my final Green Bird list is published. Hopefully that will be more than the 300, maybe even higher than the 305 to break the European record.
The most recent person to email me with an offer of sponsorship is Michael Davis. Thanks Michael.
Today Ricky the Robin (the donation boxes on the bike) have been emptied and the money shared between the four charities I am supporting. When people do give money as I travel I try to write their names on my notebook and so . . .
Ricky the Robin emptying time. Many thanks to Yvonne, Jocyln (Smugglers YH), Duncan and Tricia, Jasper, Donna, Susan, John, Clare & Eleanor, Ryan & Vicky, Henry, Jules, Moira & Ron, Jane & Lynda. xx
Some of the donations were of things, like cereal bars, given to me. My attitude is that if someone gives me something then that is a donation.
By the way, I am paying for every aspect of my trip. No one gives me any money to do this. Just thought I would say as some people do ask.
I really do appreciate all of the donations and believe in the work of the RSPB, the WWT, Asthma UK and Chaskawasi-Manu.
If you can sponsor me 1p a bird then please either message me on here or on my facebook page

So August the second, memories of 1980 and a wedding. Long time ago.

A final thought . . . it's fabulous when a birding family gets in touch to tell of their birding. Thanks Jamie. Go for it Max and Oscar.

37.91 Miles 2491 feet elevation up and 3134 down

Monday 1 August 2016

The Final Week of July 2016

A Week - 25th to 31st July

Aviemore to Insh The RSPB Fun Day and on to Tomintoul

Monday 25th

Not feeling well, sinusitis is back with a vengeance and my face feels squashed by the infection. I pack up the tent and cycle to Aviemore, shop for food and book into the youth hostel there, a superb hostel with large windows in an extensive lounge. Sitting in there I watch as red squirrels come to peanut feeders. A relaxing afternoon and evening whilst feeling rough.

Tuesday 26th

Having slept in the lounge to prevent me waking others in the dormitory with my snoring, I enjoy the antics of the squirrels. I am looking for wood warblers this morning and I set off into the woods.

Late afternoon, after having spent the day searching but not finding the target bird, difficult to find at this time of year as they don't sing, I have enjoyed watching lots of willow warblers, titmice and the occasional spotted flycatcher. The woods, mostly silver birch has been beautiful and I have a bag full of chantrelle fungi for dinner.

Wednesday 27th

After a visit to a pharmacy for medicine to alleviate the sinuses, I cycle to Insh Marshes and enter the RSPB offices in the village. On the way I stop to watch a pipistrelle bat that unusually is out hunting. It is speedily hunting insects near to a large house and some teenage kids have seen me from an upstairs window. I ignore their lame attempts at distracting me and pretend that I have not seen a full moon!

I enter the RSPB offices and the greeting is wonderful, thanks Karen, Karen and Kat!
I spend the afternoon walking around the nearest woodland section of the extensive reserve, the highlight is the sixteen Scotch Argus butterflies I see. These are the first I have seen this year.

Thursday 28th The RSPB Fun Day

I cycle to the Heritage Centre in Newtonmore for what will be a fabulous day; marquees are up and lots of RSPB staff are ready to enthrall the many visitors that are sure to turn up at this superb place on such a sunny day.

I get my face painted, a bumblebee decorates my cheek. After talking with Brad about his job with the RSPB and his passion for finding about his grandfather's role in World War One, I explore the large site.

With Stephanie and Lexy I make a woollie creature for the bike. Further on Michael and a RSPB staff ember have a tray of creatures from their pond dipping.
Black houses, perfectly reconstructed show the life of Scots long ago.
The day is fabulous, the children excited by so many differ activities and the RSPB staff so energetic and . . fun!
Too soon it is late afternoon and time to pack up. A final activity to see, worm charming, Sarah exemplifies the RSPB staff.

An evening is spent at Kat, the organiser's nearby house, a splendid relax with great food on a terrace with views over to the Cairngorms. Their beautiful house with a large garden has chickens and Kat's girls tell me about them all as they sit holding one each.

Friday 29th

I need to get to Aberdeen but am still feeling very rough. Mind you the weather is fine and the cycle to Nethy Bridge is pleasant enough.
Lunch taken, I continue to Tomintoul. By now though I am feeling very ill and seeing a youth hostel sign I decide that maybe I should rest here for the night.

Saturday 30th

Doctors and more antibiotics and inhalers. I go back to bed!

Sunday 31st

Another day spent mostly in bed!

Total mileage for 2016 - 4915.83

Year list - 269 (thanks Doug!)

New birds added in July - 11

BB 2010 Oops, crash and a motorway Abominable Snowman in Hemel Hempstead January 5th

5 th January                                                            Tragedy                                              The Bee Gees   ...