Raptor Persecution

A good article in Scotsman by the RSPB’s Duncan Orr-Ewing on the ongoing killing of some of the most iconic British wildlife:

The Scotsman

I’ve seen both types of British eagle in various places in Scotland (and a possible in the Lake District) – an amazing sight each time.

White Tailed Eagle

The best view I’ve had was of a white-tailed eagle which flew a few metres above my head and landed on the edge of the forestry block behind the cottage I was staying in on Mull. Each morning I would sit eating my breakfast looking out of the big picture window to the bay below, with a pair of eagles perched in a tree at the water’s edge. Breakfast eagles are pretty special!


Trying to be a grown up…that’ll teach me!

I try to be a grown up and keep my bikes in the shed and not in my kitchen and some git steals the best one.

Quite gutted about it really – I’d done well over 5,000 miles on that bike.

Back to keeping my bikes in my kitchen it is then!

Farewell, trusty steed.


If anyone sees a silver and black (with black and grey tyres not red as in this photo) Specialized Tarmac Elite being ridden by a chav in Crewe, let me (or the Police) know!

Winter Beer Festival – Derby

Went to the Winter Beer Festival at Derby’s Roundhouse yesterday.  The festival had a lot going for it…

Great Venue…

Roundhouse, Derby

A cheese stall…


A Piper’s Crisps stall (the best crisps you can buy…in my humble opinion!)…

 Piper's Crisps

Friendly (if a little scary) staff!

 Friendly Staff

The Festival had the usual broad cross-section of society attending from old-style bushy beard real ale-lovers, through students and couples, to a fairy or two.

However, I wasn’t impressed by the number of beers they had run out of (I went to the afternoon session – the evening session might have been good for teetotalers) and the beer keeping could had been improved – many were flat.

Winter Ale Festival 2014 – I think it could be a case of nice try, try harder next time.

PS Derby has a very nice new railway station – Crewe has more work to do!

Glaslyn Ospreys

During the last two Springs I’ve volunteered with the RSPB at their Glaslyn site, near Porthmadog in north Wales, protecting an osprey nest.  Last September, the charity handed over the project to Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife, a Community Interest Company.

The Glaslyn Male

Today they launched their new website: http://www.glaslynwildlife.co.uk

Old Pulteney 17

Well, after running out of my Old Pulteney 12, I thought I’d try something a little older.


The 12 has to be in the top three of my collection and that got an 85/100 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.  The 17 has got a brilliant 95/100 – I’ll report back!

Blakenhall Moss

Every other Sunday I work with a local group, the Crewe & Nantwich Conservation Volunteers, who undertake practical conservation tasks for a number of sites for a range of organisations. Today, we were removing (cutting down and burning) rhododendron from Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Blakenhall Moss reserve.

The reserve was bought by the Trust last year and they have been working hard to improve the site.  The Moss is a sunken mire, essentially a bog that has formed in a large depression.  Over the years, the Moss had become overgrown with trees and the site was completely covered in woodland.  The Trust’s plan is to return the Moss to its former glory, through clearing the woodland and re-wetting the site. Over the past few weeks, the Trust has employed a contractor to remove the trees from most of the site, leaving a narrow ring of woodland around the outside.  The photo below shows how the centre of the Moss has been cleared.


From the photo below, you can see how the Trust’s work, alongside the recent rainfall, has already had an incredible effect.


I have been doing bird surveys for the Trust and while I was at the Moss today I did the second survey for the site.   My job wasn’t made easy by the raised water level and if it rises any more, I’ll have to do the survey from outside of the site or by boat!

Doing the survey was a great way to spend a couple of hours; with the birds singing, the bluebell shoots poking through and the sun starting to gain strength, Spring seems just around the corner. The badgers have also been more active at the site, with freshly dug spoil around their sets and plant bulbs dug up.  I’ve been given permission to go back to the site and set up my camera trap to catch a few shots of these guys – can’t wait!

RSPB Residential Volunteering

I’ve been quoted in this year’s RSPB Residential Volunteering brochure.  It’s good to think that a few words from me might encourage more people to support the RSPB with their time.

Over the past two and a half years I’ve spent a total of 13 weeks residential volunteering on four of the RSPB’s reserves or projects including Forsinard (northern Scotland), Loch Gruinart (Islay), the Glaslyn Osprey Project (north Wales) and Ramsey Island (off the coast of Pembrokeshire).

I have to admit I’ve fallen in love with Ramsey Island, having volunteered there three times so far, with another two weeks planned this year – I’m sure I’ll post more about the place in future.


The picture above was taken on Ramsey, from the top of Carn Ysgubor, at sunset looking towards Carn Llidi on the Pembrokeshire mainland.

The quote in the brochure isn’t quite what I said and I think the real version says what I really feel:

I think it would be difficult to better this stay on Ramsey but I would like to try! The Ramsey team couldn’t have made this stay more enjoyable. It was an absolute joy and privilege to spend another fortnight on the island with them. I couldn’t recommend the experience more.”

The brochure can be found at:  http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/do_something_different_tcm9-362161.pdf


Ever since I first read about the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve in The Netherlands, I have had a growing interest in the rewilding movement.  A few weeks ago I came across an opportunity to contribute to the early stages of a UK rewilding project and donated to a crowd-funding appeal for the Cambrian Wildwood.