Thursday, January 11, 2018

The "High Tops"......but with a difference. 3.1.2018.

Not a lot of opportunity for birding today and the routine spells out locally produced nothing new.

In the afternoon I went with my daughter Rachael to the cinema within the Edencourt Theatre in Inverness. She'd got hold of tickets as a part of my Christmas gifts for a showing of the film " Mountain".  I can't recommend it highly enough ( forgive the pun ! ). It's not a natural history film as such but the scenery shots are absolutely spectacular. There was a real spiritual and artistic aspect to parts of the film with shots of avalanches, "rooftop vistas", ski-ing descents and even erupting volcanoes and close up shots of lava flows.

I confess I found the shots of tent "villages" and columns of people queuing to  access the summit of Everest less than inspiring. The "must have" mentality of conquering this majestic peak somehow relegates the sheer beauty of the surrounding landscape.  And then I reminded myself that to many outsiders the congregating masses of birders comprising a major "twitch " might seem just as offensive.  Live and let live I guess.

At several junctures there was footage of some of the extreme activities now taking place in high places, some of which appear completely absurd.  Solo climbing vertical cliffs almost came across as de rigeur ! Launching off high cliffs within mountain ranges on a bike, plummeting downwards with the whole situation then relying on the deployment of a parachute was spectacular. I confess I really enjoyed the somewhat more mundane filmed descents down precipitous snow fields and through woodlands !

Try and see it at one of your local, privately run cinemas. It is well worth it.

Wrong kind of Grand Slam ! 2.1.2018

With Andy Murray's hip injury making the headlines it wasn't at all compensating to be part of the idiom !

Dawn saw me out with the dogs in what was Baltic weather temperatures. A misjudgement led to my upending, going horizontal and slamming down on the frozen ground with its ample ice covering. Whilst I sustained no direct injuries I did give my head a wallop. Thankfully no aftermath arose from that part of the drama, but the next few hours did increasingly confirm which body bits had made contact with the cold , cold ground !   The worst part is actually getting up from ice covered ground.....not a wholly dignified process and a bit reminiscent of animals taking their first steps after being born !  Morning walking duties completed the rest of the morning was given over to garden birdwatching.

It proved to be quite interesting with Yellowhammer, Lesser Redpoll and a small group of Goldfinch appearing and overflying Fieldfare and Pink-footed Geese being seen.  

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

And so it begins......2018 !

In retrospect 2017 was both a good and bad year in a personal sense. A great trip out to Morocco in Spring, various trips around the UK and periods spent at Spurn contrasted against a couple of near disastrous family experiences that were far less enjoyable .  Thankfully, all is now improved and, hopefully, 2018 promises to be a more consistently productive and happy year ( once I've got my Speed Awareness Course out of the way on the 23rd January ! ).

So, what of the onset of 2018 ?  I'm up near Inverness, Scotland in what has been cold and icy weather so far, but is gradually set to improve. Walks out during the day ( with the dogs ) has produced little within the nearby coniferous woodlands or adjacent agricultural areas with far more activity in the garden around the feeders. Best of the bunch has been Long-tailed Tits, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Tree Sparrow, Treecreeper and odd Greenfinch with occasional Red Kite and Common Buzzard overhead.

The star performance was from a Long-tailed Field Mouse.  This individual repeatedly appeared out of its "hidey hole"  , ran down to a group of House Sparrows gathered around some food I'd scattered under the bushes, retrieved a supply and sped off !! Except it did it several times leaving the sparrows literally bewildered. What the hell was that ? There was no reaction whatsoever ! Animal theatre at its best.

With daughters accounted for after the Hogmanay celebrations the next day or so proved to be a football filled, crisis-free series of days. A good start !