Sunday, June 10, 2007

Just Playing

Just playing. I thought the two shapes might work together.

Sunsets on a Saturday Night

I've been relaxing a little more. The team sat out on Saturday evening, and enjoyed the sun going down.

We also saved a swallow chick, I must get the photo from Jamie
I had a little play with my camera, and was trying to find interesting shapes in the fore-ground to frame the clouds with.
These are all taken from the garden and farm track that run behind our house. There were some nice shapes to play with.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Happy Birthday Alex!

I'm a bit late posting this, but thought that I probably should. It was the bosses birthday last weekend. We had decided to help Alex celebrate it in our own unique fashion. Now, the plan was that all the lads would wear kilts, blankets or towels... Alex has been known to turn up for birthdays and christmas celebrations wearing full dress tartan...

Well, Jamie didn't turn up, John and Alex decided to work until late, Brian chickened out, so only one fella made the effort.....

I'm not sure how much Alex enjoyed the effort made on his behalf, but he was on the floor laughing himself to death when I drew my "Spoon Dubh" from my sock... apparently you have to keep an item of cutlery in your sock if you're Scottish. So, here you go, the kilt is my family tartan, Buchanan, the "sporran" is my Olympus camera bag, and the guy kneeing me in the groin is my boss, lol!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Huba Bidiwala is a Thief

Please click on this, I want it to become a major link for a guy.. Thanks.

Huba Bidiwala

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Staples and things....

Hello everybody, I haven’t written in my blog for a while, so it’s time for an update I guess. It’s been very busy recently, but I’ve been given the day off today, due to injuries. So, the good news is I have time to attend to my blog. I’m sitting here with three staples in my scalp having walked into a road-sign. It makes a bit of a change, normally I bang my head on “Mind Your Head” signs, which is remarkably stupid of me. So, I guess that you’re intrigued now? I was out with the boss (Alex Copland) checking the Laois County bridges for use by nesting “Dippers” and wagtails, etc. Having finished at one bridge, I believe it was due to be the last one of the day, although we might have pulled one more in, we were scaling the bank, returning to the road. Alex reminded me to to be careful where I was putting my feet as there was an open drain hidden in the grass, and I was being so careful that I missed the 8 foot road-sign and smashed my head into the very corner of it. Luckily I was wearing my Donegal Tweed Flat-hat, otherwise I’d have needed a few more staples, and yes they are real staples just like the ones used in offices, only bigger and stronger!

Whilst waiting for the staples, Alex and I were able to watch most of the Seville V Espanol match on the TV in the hospital waiting room. This was a bit of a coincidence as I had left Seville Airport the previous day, with the plane full of Seville FC fans who were unable to fly to Glasgow due to the thousands that were attending the match. It was an exciting match, with two cracking goals and a lot of cracking strikes and saves.

Hopefully this will bring this weeks round of bad luck to an end. I spent the morning at the opticians replacing my specs which had broken whilst in Spain and in the afternoon my Leitz binoculars broke, (the focus wheel has decided to free-wheel). I’m told the bad luck comes in threes, so hopefully that’s that. My two latest eBay purchases (an MP3 player and radio transmitter) both work, so that’s a good sign, although the two of them don’t yet function as a pair because the jack-plugs are different sizes, but what the hell, that’s a lot better than the 80GB hard-drive which arrived broken and I’ve never been compensated for by eBay, the seller, (digits_n_numbers),the carrier or PAYPAL who have really let me and another colleague, Jamie, down. The carrier have promised to try and sort it out for me, whereas PAYPAL, the seller, (digits_n_numbers), and eBay no-longer respond to my mail. I did mention to those three in my last mail that I would enter a web-page naming and shaming them in blogspots and MySpace, if they didn’t sort it out. I might even add one to Bebo as well. So, if anyone else has been dissatisfied with any of these service providers…. Please add your comments and let’s go public.

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Jim's Retirement Bash!

As I mentioned, I had just returned from Spain. I had been out to a retirement party. My former Senior Lecturer, Dissertation Supervisor, Bird-Ringing Trainer and Friend, the eminent Dr. Jim Fowler (AKA His Majesty, The Royal Maalie King) was celebrating his retirement with some 25 or so of his good friends, family, colleagues and loyal subjects. It was excellent to see some of my favourite folk there, including Kate “House Sparrow” Vincent, Will Kirby and Simon “The Minstrel to the Royal Maalie Court” Cotter, along with some of my blogging friends, including Lorenzo the Llama. Another of my favourite lecturers attended, “Drinking Ken” Stewart, who drank a bottle and half of Irish whiskey, “Crested Ten” and “Black Bush”, with me, complaining continuously that Irish make weak whiskey compared with the dirty disgusting peat-bog and wood-smoke whiskey that the Scottish prefer. Having said that, he admitted that he doesn’t but whiskey any-more preferring to have it given him. He is Scottish, after-all. It was also very rewarding to meet Judy and Dave Bullock, who I had met in the Banagher Office of Birdwatch Ireland, last year, and mistaken him for a Shetland Bullock, which I proceeded to do again on re-acquaintance this year. I was about to purchase a Batbox-3 on my return but he was able to give me some good advise on Bat-recording and waiting for the new Batbox “Duet”, which I shall do, being fed-up with buying things that don’t do the right job. Dave keeps the main data-base of UK bats. If you’re reading this Dave, in the newspaper on the plane home was an article calling for a embargo on all Irish beef products because of a proposed cull of the Irish Badger population. De Je Vous? I should also probably add here, that it was Dave the introduced the “Beaver’s Paw” tradition to Jim, which he readily adopted and uses to indicate that he is actually tell the truth for once. Graeme Mochrie was also with us, being the fellow who actually instigated the Maalie Court by effectively crowning the King.

We were very fortunate to have a number of “birders” who were much better than myself, so I never had to open my Collins Field Guide, although some of Jill’s reports were a little dodgy, including the Rough-legged Buzzard, Arctic Tern (which would have been remarkable) and the Spotless Sparrow and Muted Eagle would also surely have been picked up by “Birding Ken” Hindmarch, who I know as a fine birder from Cumbria and a pretty good ringer. Ken did remind me that our parting words last time we met, was a request from me to “Look after Jim for me”, which he has been doing a fine job of, ever-since, and I hope that he will continue in this role. Pam Moorhouse another birding friend that I have met in Cumbria and Leicester (who also has the honour of being the first woman I ever met who owned her own telescope) upset me with daily sightings of the Purple Galinule, which I managed to “Dip on”. I had only two birds on my wants list, a “two foot purple chicken” (as reported on Askam-in-Furness’s Sandscale Hawes NNR), which I managed to miss by a few weeks, and the Black Kite (which turned out to be more common than pigeons…..).

We were camping (in air-conditioned chalets) at Al Aldea campsite, which I would strongly recommend to anyone planning to visit Spain, having the virtue of been on the edge of the Donana National Park. It is rather pleasant to lie by the pool listening to Nightingales and Corn Buntings, whilst Red-rumped Swallow drink from the pool and Kites soar overhead. It also has the benefit of a very excellent bird tour guide, John Butler, who knew where to take us for almost every bird that I got on my hypothetical list, including visible Nightingales, Hoopoe, Black-shouldered Kite, Booted Eagle, Bee-eaters, Squaco, Purple, Night and even a Western Reef Heron. I refused to keep a list, on the principal that I was on holiday, but our tour-group got 69 species and I got a couple of extras after that including my first Nightjars (Red-knecked). The Eagle was my first too. Black Kite and Bee-eaters I saw on my first day ever in Shetland, with Kate and Worzel (AKA Alun AKA Snortzel), Jim’s son, the “Other Dr. Fowler”.
Glossy Ibis chicks
More spoons!
Bee-eater, worth a click to zoom!
Nightingale... Click, go on!

It wasn’t a purely birding holiday for me, I spent one day at the beach with Kate and Kelly watching the locals relaxing on the beach. Strangely enough, the two girls closest to us were Irish, having a Belfast accent. I spent the following day lying around the pool getting an excellent suntan. My only regret is that I didn’t get good photos of Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Eagle, Kite or Azure-winged Magpie, or that I couldn’t get a decent mixed grill for breakfast. The Spanish know nothing about proper breakfasts.

The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly Jim’s Big Dinner Night. We had a smashing meal followed by a few speeches from Worzel, Graeme, Dave and Jim himself, in which he said a few words about most of us, where we had entered his life, or what we’d done to it. It was worth the effort to get there just for this part of the evening. Worzel was a magnificent Master of Ceremonies, and Jim was on his best behaviour for once, only slightly runcible.
"Birding Ken", Will, Kate and Struddles.
A happy Maalie King
Story time!
More stories

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Weekend Off!

I’ve spent the weekend off, I decided to try Irish Tourism. Mostly I’ve been out with some friends of mine from Wales, Ian ("Eazy-Man-Giro, AKA "Squelshy")and Kathryn, and the dogs. We spent Saturday enjoying the blizzard at Clonmacnoise, after visiting the Clonfanlough Stone (see under Ian's foot…). We spent most of Sunday around Meelick Weir, where we witnessed the first Sandmartins of the year.

Today a colleague, Jamie, and I went to one of the local callows where Jamie had spotted the first geese that we’d had on the callows all winter. We confirmed 95 White-fronted Geese, but were not able to get an accurate count on the 10,000 Godwits which were being harassed by a big female Peregrine Falcon and a Female (ring-tail) Hen Harrier. The blurred shot is the Peregrine sitting on a fence directly behind the geese.

So, I’m a just doing a chatty blog today, and hope you enjoy my weekend off….



Saturday, March 17, 2007

Barn Owl Project, Ireland

Hello everybody. I’m very pleased to announce the Irish Barn Owl Conservation Project is under new management as of 1st April. I have been informed today, that my application for the position has been successful. The former project officer is beginning a Ph.D. study of the factors which are contributing to the decline of this species in Ireland. I shall be seeking volunteers throughout Ireland to contribute to a full national census, as well as welcoming individual sitings. First indications appear to show a decline of 75% or thereabouts over the last ten years. I will give more precise figures as they become available.

Should anyone require any advice on Barn Owls, please feel free to contact me on my personal email address at Or at BirdWatch Ireland. In the meantime here’s a picture of one, borrowed from Flikr photo’s. I’d also like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a “Happy Saint Patricks Day”!

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

I've treated myself to new pair of bins, Leica, 8x32s. I'll need them for a little holiday I'll be taking in May, and of course for the fieldwork.