Saturday, 9 September 2017

A Rather Diverse Day.

What a contrast in fortunes today. Lesson learnt so far . . . spontaneity will not get me far this year. 

Once again I was denied access to a train; the train from Glasgow that would take me to Oban wouldn't let me on without a reservation. How do you get a reservation . . . oh, you can't, you have to book at least two hours before the train's departure. As that was at 7:15 a.m. this morning there was no way that i could reserve a bike place on the train. Oh well . . .
Missed that train and therefore missed the ferry from Oban to Barra to see the 'still there' American Redstart.

Everything was going so delightfully well before then too. A wonderful Norwegian lady, Hanne, had been superb company from Edinburgh to Glasgow. Hanne talked passionately about Shakespeare and the evidence that Our Bill didn't write any of the plays, sonnets and poems. Interesting, Hanne gave some references and names to look up in order to peruse some of the evidence and current thinking on the matter.
Separated by a bike not being allowed on the next train as mentioned, I find eventually the ticket office and get some help from the train conductor who had denied me access in getting on the next train. The next train to Oban wouldn't be leaving though for another two hours.
The bike is stowed onto that train and as I am not allowed to sit on it until five minutes before it leaves I walk out of the station to explore a bit and get some Boots sandwiches.
Sandwich, snack and drink for £3.39, I get two lots and sit with a homeless woman, Marianne, giving her the choice over which she prefers from my Boots selection. Apparently she only gets £34 every two weeks to live on and therefore a life of sitting on the street is her only opportunity of getting enough to live. She hasn't a bed for tonight but a couple arrive to help her and I leave her with them to discuss what bed can be fund for tonight.
Back to the station, I sit with two ladies waiting for a train to .......

Interrupted by phone call about Adam's plane crash!!!! Puts my problem over missing a ferry into perspective. Thankfully everyone got out alive . . . . .

The two ladies, oh yes, two ladies who had just returned from Gracelands . . . .

Oh now it is the emotion of just hearing the last commentary by Henry 'Blowers' Blofeld on Test Match Special. Another very special man and a wonderful character leaves. It feels like the day Richie Benaud did the same. Tears maybe due to Blowers having gone but also from the incredible close shave that Adam has survived from.

The two ladies talk about their love for Elvis and how they are now on their way to a caravan holiday in Great Yarmouth.

What a day!

Onto the train to Oban at last, I am joined by nine lads on a stag day celebration for the marriage of their mate, Gary. A couple of hours of beers, chat and fun with magnificent views of the World's best country as the train goes beside the Clyde and around to Loch Lomond.

Thanks Gary, Colin, Zander (!), Alan, Paul, another Gary (what three Garys together?), John, Brian and Mark. Brilliant!

Any ladies reading this watch out for the costume that the soon to be married Gary has to wear whilst cruising down Loch Lomond with his mates!

In my solitude after their departure I am joined by the girl who wheels a refreshments trolley up and down the train. She has two interesting tattoos on her arms and talks about her passion for more of them. A young woman with beautiful green eyes, she talks of her dream to have a holiday in Greece. 

We are joined by a young cyclist who now lives in Oban.

Into Oban at last, the weather is beautiful and I go to take some photographs of the bay and the views across to Mull.

The camera's broken! It won't open. Just a black screen. Oh well. Compared to Adam's experience a camera broken and missing a ferry is nothing.
Just to complete an interesting day , . .
Engand have beaten the West Indies at Lords. They win the series and we can go to Australia with two series wins this summer.
Now listening to Blower's walk around the Lord's ground to a standing ovation. Wonderful.

Is life diverse?

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Dip, Green Birding Adventurer and Birdfair 2017


Sing along now . . . . 

Everybody needs somebody . . . . . .      

OK. Feel better after that?

Long time no write and so much has happened since last I did.

Yesterday a dip (missed bird) with friends was disappointing but part of the carbon twitching life. Birds have wings. They fly away. Yet after flying the Atlantic from America it, a mega rare Yellow Warbler, could have least have stayed around for longer than the afternoon of the previous day. Oh well, great to catch up with so many friends and if one more birder says, “ did you cycle here?” I'll . . . .
Actually it is rather nice to be recognised by so many strangers to me. One even shouted, “I gave you a sausage roll last year!”

A message this morning from Leonidas, a Green Birder cycling from Miami, USA to Cusco, Peru, saying the birding was slow.

just combining my two passions, starting slow with the birds looking forward to be in Central America. I'm working on my bird list I'll appreciate all your help on this adventure and definitely I'll see you in Cusco next year thank you again

An incredible undertaking, let's all wish the intrepid young man a safe ride with hundreds of birds.

Birdfair last weekend was an incredible, uplifting experience. I particularly enjoyed the talks attended and seeing so many friends there. I also spent a lot of time meeting up with people who will hopefully be involved with my next adventure, the Biking Birder Peru trip 2018.

At last I have got to meet the legendary Gunnar Engbolm!

And David Lindo.

And Mark Thomas.

The Israeli team from The Champions of The Flyway were here.

And the video of the event is superb. My Brummie-accent coming to the fore with my spluttered 'phenomenal day.'

So many issues, people and events to show in more detail. I will be taking some time to each justice I hope in the next few days.

I gave a talk on Sunday last. Well attended which was a surprise, I had thought it might be one man and his dog, all left laughing at the end. My talk involves elements missing from all others; dancing, singing and audience participation! I do so hope some of you may be able to attend my talks when I go around Britain giving talks this winter.

So back to now. Mum's 85th birthday today. Love her to bits, my Little Miss Sunshine.

Off to The Isles of Scilly with two Birding Clams this weekend, Jason Oliver and Tony Barter, for a pelagic trip out into the Atlantic, hoping for Wilson's Storm Petrels and Great Shearwaters.

Then an all-dayer competition at my local patch, Upton Warren punctuates my journey north back to North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory. It is going to be fabulous to see the team again.

Love to you all xxx Gary

Friday, 4 August 2017

Hen Harrier Day Approaches.

Hello everyone. I am back in the UK after my fabulous time in Peru. After a couple of weeks working at the superb Stratford Upon Avon Butterfly Farm, I am now down on the south coast of England on my way to a Hen Harrier Day event at Arne RSPB reserve in Dorset.

Today and tomorrow will be a dragonfly searching and birding on Studland and around Durlston, with some time visiting very close friends in Swanage.

Studland has all the British reptiles present on the heathland so hoping to find a few of them; smooth snake and sand lizard being the rarest.

Swanage was the town I lived in with my late wife and children so a visit there is always emotional.

Then to Arne via Corfe Castle.

Sunday is Hen Harrier Day at Arne RSPB reserve and I am really looking forward in joining the crowd of people fighting the evil of driven grouse shooting in the UK and the slide into extinction of hen harrier as a breeding bird in England.

For more on the reasons for this event and details of other events around the UK please go to the following websites. Please give your support in any way you can.

At Rainham RSPB reserve Chris Packham will be giving his views.

Meanwhile raptor - bird of prey persecution isn't just a hen harrier phenomenon. Sadly and disgustingly many birds of prey are killed across Britain. A superb group monitors, debates the issues and lobbies parties concerning this. More details may be found here. . .

Thanks everyone.

BCNU all soon with photographs of the next few days. Love to you all.