17/08/2017

Dire Straits PT2


I had intended do go for a few early morning walks to the reserve opposite the hotel (Punta de n'Amer) but it never happened.  Instead I managed some late walks there before dinner time.

The area is full of pine trees, dunes and boulders and ... joggers.  Literally everywhere.  Whilst I admire their sportiness and toned physiques (I'm still working on mine, 36 years and it still hasn't happened).  The amount of footfall surely affects what wildlife might be around.

Nevertheless I did see some odds and ends.

Scarlet Darter - a suitable name. Well done.


Audouins Gull - last years Menorca post had much better pics of these.



Swallow in a surprisingly cloudy sky - probably thought he was in the UK...

Same for this fellow

I bet he has eaten plenty of lizards,birds etc in his time :-(

At the end of the trail lies a small fort which gives great views from the top.

The way in (looks like its occupied by Gollum)


Cicada (just the skin)


View of the fort





Cannon jutting out to repel baddies

Spotted Flycatcher I think - loads of em.


This Hoopoe has digging around near the fort.  Luckily I was in a trench and could sneak up on him




He looks hard as nails but was actually a soft sod.


Okay, so now you are thinking what has he called it Dire Straights for?

Let me tell you.  One morning I awoke to some slightly cooler weather.  The Boss said it would be fine for me to go on a cycle ride until dinner - this part is vehemently denied by my better half.  But that is what she said...

The hotel had free bikes, so off I went.  In my mind I had planned to go to Alcudia, more specifically the s'Albufera reserve.  Cant be that far... Oh and I didnt have a phone.

Started off alright, bit hilly but nothing to severe.  After a couple of hours I was in the very pleasant town of Arta, which does actually feel Spanish and is less polluted with T-shirts, beer and bad tribute acts.



Turtle doves were more abundant in the countryside.
This one played a cruel trick on me (read on)


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Quick break at Arta.  Traffic was heavy because a tree had just collapsed!


Next stop to look out for would be Sa Coma.  This is where things got more difficult.  I should have cut my losses.

I cycled and cycled and cycled along the MA12 road (just saying it gives me the chills).  It alternated between lactic acid hills and wonderful swooping descents.  Then it started raining, hard.

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I was drenched. Wearing any clothes was pretty pointless tbh, but I didnt want to get arrested.


It took about 20 minutes to subside and off I went again, through Can Picafort (looked tacky to me) and on and on.  Then finally s'Albufera.  I was finally here.

And what an entrance! An Osprey perched up on a pylon right in front.  I hurriedly pulled out my camera... Nothing.  Dead battery.  It was the Turtle Dove's fault. I had left the bloody camera on...



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Its the dot on the pylon 

There were egrets of all varieties hanging around along with dozens of Squacco herons (a first for me).  A quick time check revealed that I had about 30 mins if I was going to get back before dark (it had taken me just under 4 hours...)

Its a great place and well worth a visit (just hire a car or get a hotel in Alcudia!)

I took a big breath and back I went.  This is when things went wrong.  My lack of fitness reared its ugly head plus the way back felt steep as hell.  An hour in and I was struggling and thirsty - except I had drunk my bottle dry.  Added to this the front tyre had got very soft and I didnt have a pump.

I was knackered, seriously knackered.  Weird black dots in the eyes and all.  My legs had seized up and I had to dismount and walk.  The situation wasnt helped by a cocky foreigner (I wont say what country as I dont want to cause a war) who drove passed in his jeep laughing and jeering.  Tosser.

That road was so bloody long and I felt so awful.

After 2 hours I had made it back to Arta.  I was seriously dehydrated but there were shops... Except they were all shut.  Bloody hell.  Resting in the afternoon. Pah, what nonsense.

Then God himself took pity on me...

There was a 2L bottle of sealed water outside a house on the pavement... Yes I did take it.  And I am sorry but it was that or passing out.

The Holy Water...

After peddling round the corner to safety I drank 1L there and then.  I then blundered my way to the old train station.  There I located a shop that was open.  The man behind the desk asked if I was okay... I must have looked bad.  I bought a big bottle of coke and 20 mini muffins...

After 20 minutes there was nothing left.



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The old Arta train station, viewed from the floor. 

Once more God thought I deserved a bit of a break.  I found a cycle trail which went back roughly homeward.  Except that after the first 10 minutes back in the saddle the front mud guard somehow twisted and jammed its in the wheel.  By that point I couldnt do anything in a dextrous fashion and I simply wrenched half of it off.  Problem solved.

The cycle track was great, taking me through little farms and vast valleys.  Booted eagles in the sky and no camera to get them with...

Nearly 5 hours in I got back...60 miles of cycling/walking/shambling under my belt.

There was silence for just under 24 hours.  The Boss wasnt happy...

I was still in dire straights...


A fine consolation prize - Hermanns Tortoise.  Lovely little fellow.





03/08/2017

Dire Straits PT1



There are scenes with strong language and brief scenes of nudity. Along with brief scenes of mild animal cruelty.


It should have been a joyous time.  I was about to head off to sunny Mallorca.  Camera primed, swimming trunks freshly washed and in flight magazines purchased. 

But there was a problem.  In my infinite wisdom I decided to do a spot of fishing a few hours before the trip to Bristol airport.

Andrew doesn’t agree with the slightly odd practice of catching a fish, looking at it and putting it back again.  I think his argument against it has got something to do with hooks in mouths, suffocation etc. 

Anyway it was clear that Andrew’s curse was firmly placed upon my freshly waxed shoulders.  Fishing just by the little bridge on the bend along the River Sheppey I was pleased as punch when the float sunk and some considerable resistance could be felt on the rod.  A chunky Chub slowly came towards me before dashing into the near bank ready to tangle me up and make its grand escape.

Fearing I would lose him I gently pushed my landing net into the weed and branches he had dived into.  Out he shot… in I went.  The whole 9 yards.  After flapping about a bit I managed to drag myself back out.  Rod in hand.  The Chub was still on and looked quite concerned when brought onto the bank, having never been caught by a human with large lumps of green duckweed hanging from every crease.

I went for the obligatory photo.  That was when I realized.  My new phone had joined me in an underwater excursion – and like me it wasn’t waterproof… B*******!!!

Back at home there was plenty of rushing about with the Boss making final checks and the offspring running about in delirious holiday excitement.  I found a few minutes to blast the phone with the hairdryer.  To no avail.  DOA.

I droned on about my loss during the car journey to the airport, in the airport and on the plane.  Eventually The Boss snapped and told me to shut up (it was a bit more x rated than that but it is only PG-13 rated).

We were staying at the edge of Sa Coma.  A truly horrendous concrete jungle complete with British Bars, Burger King and a dubious Freddie Mercury act – good outfit though.
Fortunately the hotel was super luxurious.  The room included 2 Flat screen TVs with all the English channels (just in case of home sickness). 2 balconies, Wet room and one of those tap things which sprays water up your arse.

We arrived at 3am, so seeing any wildlife would be difficult (other than a few drunk stragglers  arguing over where their hotel was).

Heading down to breakfast it became clear that any idea of weight loss was out the window.  Although there was healthy stuff on offer, it was dwarfed by bacon, eggs, sausages, waffles, cookies and glazed donuts.

Each Pigeon had their own luxurious room


Soon, delicate negotiations with The Boss began.  I get very twitchy (see what I did there) on holiday and find it extremely difficult to sit by the pool for long.  Of course the Little un kept me entertained for quite some time but I was itching to have a walk about.  I started sensibly and took a stroll around the complex and the gardens immediately outside.  Actually it was about 10 steps before the heavens open and some serious rain fell… Sunny Mallorca!?

The rain fell for a good hour.  I was reduced to watching Bargain Hunt whilst The Boss and The Little Un watched Horrid Henry on the i-Phone.
As the rain subsided I had a look out from the balcony.  A flash of black and white scooted across the small garden below.  Hoopoe!

I grabbed my camera and gave chase.  Now, I had a problem.  One I am familiar with.  A man walking around with a big lens pointing it towards all and sundry is a recipe for disaster.

I dived and weaved between lazy hammocks, bikini clad beauties (and not so beauties) and departing family suitcases.  But the Hoopoe was wise.  He looked on nonchalantly.  Fully aware of my presence.  I took a step forward he fluttered back a bit.  I hid behind a tree, he turned round and waddled off.

It was immensely frustrating.  But then he got distracted by what I think was a beetle.  In this moment of absence I managed to collar him.



 Distracted.

Beetle consumed.

 

 Pre Flight safety check.




After all the excitement I did some family stuff again (important to keep everybody sweet – something I failed to do later on in the story).

Just before dinner I took a stroll around the scrubby area outside the hotel.  Pigeons everywhere along with Greenfinches, Goldfinches and a few Stonechats.



Everwhere... 


Young Stonechat i think


Grumpy looking Greenfinch


So all had ended well.  Little did I know the dire straits I would soon be in...

17/07/2017

Droning on





(CLICK ON A PIC AND IT WILL GO BIG)






Finally the EFRS had a full compliment. James wasn't ill, I wasn't wandering around tank museums etc etc. We had to do the classic, a cycle out to Hamwall. James was as usual fashionably late but we were off with gusto down out of Glastonbury, through the enchanted wood, a brief stop at the Aqueduct crossing bridge and on to the entrance of Hamwall. A beautiful day would have been nice but the clouds were about on mass. So what, we thought, it was EFRS day and we paced on. Stopping at VP2 we found that we were alone, I mean alone as there was precious little wildlife about for company. Eventually there did appear the usual stuff that we tend to drone on about. You know the ones, three Marsh Harriers, five Great White Egrets and a single Cattle Egret. The usual mundane stuff. We discussed other reserves and I commented that the good stuff tends to hang around as per the three mentioned just now. Seriously we're not knocking the wealth of diverse nature. Anyway lets just climb out of this hole and show the pictures.

Oh I forgot to mention we moved on to the Avalon Hide to see if anything was about. There was.


First off James' pictures

Parent bringing in the lunch


You can tell it was a poor day when you snap Black Headed Gulls


We moved on again to the Tor Hide where it was still a bit quiet. Its the time of year isn't it. Everything has done it's business and was relaxing with a fag while the juniors play. I suggested we move on, packed up my kit and walked off down to the bikes. James stayed for a while and then I saw that classic look. He squatted down slightly and lifted his lens. He looked around at me with that 'Theres something really good flying round. I ran back in. It was a female Marsh Harrier coming up close and personal. She wasn't bothered a bit by us. James had her in his sights but didn't quite get her.


James shot as she flew passed

Then she came round again

Nice one James

So my pics next



That Cattle Egret at VP2

A Buzzard on a stick

Coot family at the Avalon Hide



Feed me

Now I don't want to drone on again but this happened at the Avalon Hide. A drone flew over and wandered around for a few minutes. Its a DJI Aspire 1 to be precise. We reported it to the RSPB staff who knew it was about. Now I've had a quick Google and things don't add up. If it was an RSPB drone doing a survey the staff would probably know about it and they wouldn't be doing it at the weekend.  If it was a police drone it would be marked such. There was a missing persons search on in the area. Also it didn't hang around long and only did a cursory sweep. This is an expensive bit of kit. It few off over towards the houses. I couldn't see anyone controlling it.



DJI Inspire 1 drone


Bringing in the lunch again

Feed me!

Gulp!

Gulp!

James dropped his hood out the window of the hide! No wildlife was hurt in the incident!



I managed to get the Marsh Harrier at the Tor Hide









I hope we haven't droned on too much about the great wildlife at our reserves. We really are spoilt don't you think?