Monday, 5 March 2018

Grebes In The City

  Here is a very belated blog on my first ever international birding trip.Okay, so maybe it wasn't exactly a birding tour, it just consisted of a North Sea ferry, a coach and 4-5 hours in Amsterdam.We decided to come here as a Valentine's Day treat but I managed to pack my binoculars just in case.
  We took the overnight crossing from Hull to Rotterdam, leaving the Humber around 8.30pm to arrive the other side of the North Sea at 7.30am the next morning.People had boarded 3-4 hours before departure and so had already consumed enough alcohol to float the ship on, so a quiet, relaxing evening was not expected.
  Pride Of Rotterdam ferry

  Luckily for me, the ferry crossing coincided with Liverpool's Champions League football match(which they won 5-0) so we were able to spend a couple of hours of Valentine's evening in the bar watching the game.How romantic am I?
  It at least meant I went to bed a bit happier than usual :) Staying in an outside cabin near the Stern of the ship meant we had the luxury of really feeling the not so calming swells of the North Sea.This was made apparent at around 2.30am when I was virtually thrown from my bed as if the ship had hit a brick wall.Needless to say from then til the screaming tannoy at 6am announcing "Breakfast was now available!", we didn't get much sleep.
  Our corridor made us feel like we were in Stephen King's "The Shining"

  Arriving at the Europort in Rotterdam on time, gave me a chance to get out the binoculars.While waiting to alight the ferry, Black-headed and Herring Gulls glided passed the windows.Below in the water, a bevy of Mute Swans and a Little Grebe were seen and a lone Oystercatcher patrolled the shoreline.
  The following 90 minutes on the coach from Rotterdam to Amsterdam turned out to be the most exciting part of the day.I saw the usual array of Corvids, Pigeons, Coots, Moorhen, Mallards and Gadwall within 10 minutes of leaving the port.On the journey North up the A4 the landscape changed to the traditional Dutch fields, interspersed with windmills and drainage ditches.
  The Dutch landscape(not my photo)

  These fields were a haven for bird life,Corvids, Gulls, Greylag and Canada Geese, Coots, Little Egrets and Grey Herons were all in attendance.Waterfowl such as Pintail, Goldeneye, Wigeon, Shovelers and Teal all taking advantage of this ideal habitat.Most excitingly was the sight of 4 Great White Egrets(I've only seen 4 previously in my life) and my first ever wild White Storks, 2 of them among the Egrets.Unfortunately any chance of a passing photo was made impossible by our coach driver's emulation of a Formula 1 driver.
  White Stork (photo of captive one I saw in Norfolk previously)

  We arrived in Amsterdam.After prying our fingers from the seat arm-rests, we disembarked the coach outside the Basilica of St.Nicholas and got told we had 5 hours before the last coach back to port.
 Basilica of St.Nicholas

  We began our wander of the main canal ring with no idea where we were going.The first thing we noticed were the shops.In the UK it would be your average corner shop/newsagents, but here the shop windows had one theme......Cannabis.I've seen pictures of them before but it was strange standing in front of such a window filled with Cannabis lollipops, brownies, cookies and other related paraphernalia.

  We walked over canal bridges and down narrow alleyways before we realised we had inadvertently wandered into the Red Light District area.

  I hadn't noticed the barely clothed ladies in the windows until avoiding people walking towards us, we moved closer to the buildings and a glass fronted door opened with a woman beckoning us inside.This was repeated down the alleys if anyone moved too close to the doors.It reminded me of Trapdoor Spiders waiting for prey to stray too near their burrows.We tried to walk more down the centre of the lanes after that.

  Back to Birding :) Coots, and Great Crested Grebes were obviously thriving on the canals.Coots actually seemed to be more numerous in the Red Light District than people and the Great Crested Grebes were so used to the constant foot traffic that you could stand and watch them from a few feet away.It was great to watch the Grebes at such close quarters without having to be sat in a hide.I watched as they dived for food among the colourful reflections of the resplendent architecture.
  Amsterdam Coot

  Great Crested Grebes

A few photos of the amazing architecture in Amsterdam.

  Popping into a shopping centre for a coffee we came across the Elephant Parade store.The charity founded by father and son, Mike and Marc Spits after being inspired by meeting an Elephant named Mosha, that had lost her leg after stepping on a landmine.We couldn't leave without buying something.

  I really wanted to explore Vondelpark but with where we were and my Arthritic problems, we deemed it too far to walk.Instead I checked the phone map and found the nearest green space and headed for that.
  It was called Weteringplantsoen and was just a small park area alongside one of the canals.Despite the park's size I spotted a Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Egyptian Geese and a noisy squadron of Parakeets.Twenty or so Coots were here too that just ambled around my feet like hungry Pigeons.
 Weteringplantsoen(photos by Majella Fox)

  Egyptian Goose

 Ring-necked Parakeets


  Great Spotted Woodpecker

  Speaking of Pigeons, they were most numerous in Dam Square.A man was walking around with a large bag of bird seed, offering some to people so they could join in the fun of feeding our feathered friends and find out what it feels like to be one of the statues in the square, covered in birds.It was great to see children laughing and connecting with urban Wildlife.
  Dam Square

  Wandering the Amsterdam Canal Ring with my partner Majella.

  The rain finally ceased and the Sun arrived just in time to see us catch our bus back to Rotterdam.Taking nearly twice as long as the one into Amsterdam at 2hrs 45minutes, it was not nearly as enjoyable.This included a pit stop in a layby to allow the engine to cool down before continuing on to the Europort.
  The North Sea crossing back was thankfully much calmer than the original one, arriving at Sunrise in Hull and ending our first international (Birding) trip.

  31 bird species were seen in total with the White Storks, the stars of the trip.

  Many thanks for reading the blog and viewing the photos.Hopefully it won't be as long til the next blogpost :) 
  Take care and get out and enjoy Nature :) 

Saturday, 2 December 2017

A Historic Day For Lincolnshire Hedgehogs

  It has been a few months since I blogged but a very special day occurred this week which needed blogging about.

  It was 1993 when two prickly characters were given to a local animal loving "mad" couple and so began Frank and Veronica Tett's emotional and wonderfully caring journey to help save our British Hedgehogs.
  For more than two decades , along with a dedicated group of volunteers they have rescued, rehabilitated and released thousands of Hedgehogs.
  A few years after those first two visitors, a certain charismatic individual arrived at the rescue centre in need of help.He became known as Andrew.After some medical treatments and veterinary visits it became clear that Andrew was blind.If released back into the wild, his chances of survival would have been virtually zero so he became a permanent resident, founder of Andrew's Hedgehog Hospital and ambassador for Hedgehogs.

  Andrew's is now a registered charity and having to help more Hogs than ever before(currently around 150 at the hospital with many more being over-Wintered by volunteers).

  This has all been done from Frank and Ronnie's property, which brings us to this weeks Andrew's Hedgehog Hospital Ground Breaking Day.November 30th, chosen as it is St.Andrew's Day and coincidentally Ronnie's birthday.Their vision had always been to have an all purpose Hedgehog hospital built and thanks to Elsham Hall Country Park near Brigg that dream is a step closer to becoming a reality.The architectural plans of the new carbon-neutral hospital have been completed and an acre of land donated and so on Thursday with the help of Clare and Tiggy Elwes, Frank and Ronnie were able to watch proudly as the foundation stone was laid.
  The new site of the carbon-neutral, all purpose Andrew's Hedgehog Hospital.

From left to right.
Frank Tett, Tiggy and Clare Elwes, Ronnie Tett and Andrew's Administrator Vee Harness

  We were honoured to be part of such an important day and even the blizzards couldn't dampen the excitement.The view from the new hospital site.

  VIP's and volunteers warmed up in the barn with mulled wine as Frank gave a short speech before once again being interviewed by the local TV news team.

  Frank, Ronnie & Tiggy warming up while enjoying the snow scene.

  Ronnie, with the aid of Clare and Tiggy then cut the cake.Very nice it was too :)

  Hoggie items were available for purchase as well as the new "Buy A Brick" campaign to help fund the build(see end of blog for details).

  Even during such a momentous and historic day, Hedgehog care was still at the forefront of everyone's thoughts and so when the awesome Jo got a call of a young Hog needing help immediate action was taken.A kind member of the public had rescued a juvenile from swerving traffic on the snow covered road in Scunthorpe.She had kept him warm in a blanket and box but was unable to drive in the snow to bring him to the rescue centre.Majella and myself then offered to go fetch the vulnerable Hedgehog and then was able to drop him off into the care of qualified volunteer Kath to assess.He weighed just under 300g so would've struggled to make it through the cold Winter months.He is now safe in the warmth and care of Kath and will be kept fed and monitored and released in the Spring.
  The building of this eco-friendly hospital will have such a positive impact on how many more Hedgehogs can be saved and released back into the wild to help the dwindling population of the Nation's most loved mammal.

  In the meantime help is always needed at the rescue centre.Ferplast Hamster cages, fleecy blankets, Spikes Hedgehog food, meaty Cat food, Burgess Kitten biscuits, newspapers are all constantly required, along with financial donations.
Please contact the hospital(on their website or Facebook page) if you are able to help. :) 

  Also check out the "Buy A Brick" campaign.
It's £5 a brick or for just £10 have your name immortalised on the brick and become part of the new Andrew's Hedgehog Hospital.

  Thank you for reading and to everyone who works so hard to save and protect our British Wildlife.You are all #wildlifeheroes :)


Friday, 21 July 2017

Tiger Blog

  As I had taken quite a few Tiger photos the other day and probably too many to post on Facebook I have decided to do a blog for most of them.

  The Tiger is one of the most recognizable animals on the planet(except to the woman who told her kid it was a Leopard the other day) and it is inconceivable that we may be the last generation to witness them in all their glory out in the wild.With only around 3000 left it is a real possibility that they could become extinct in the wild in our lifetime.
  They are mainly vulnerable from poaching for their body parts as well as through habitat loss causing more frequent human/Tiger conflicts.

 You can help protect the 1200 Tigers left in India and their habitats by supporting the vital ground level work done by Tiger Awareness.From helping communities that live in Tiger areas, educating schools and funding the work and training of the forest guards with much needed equipment and Dogs.

  You can help by joining in my Tiger Prize Draw.Only £2 per ticket with over 10 prizes to win including Lincolnshire Wildlife Park Tickets, Signed book by BBC cameraman & Naturalist John Aitchison, Tiger Duvet Set, Wildlife dvds, Tiger clothing and more.
  Just check out the link below please :)

  Or alternatively you can donate direct to Tiger Awareness at -

  Please, please help us save these magnificent animals before the only place we can see them is in captivity.

  Thank you for reading, now I hope you enjoy the photos of the Amur Tigers :)

  Thanks again for browsing my blog :)
  Working together we can make a positive difference to the Natural World.