Saturday, 9 April 2011

Rael: More trap building, a birthday party and a short trip to Mainland.

Arriving in 2007 and having two fantastic seasons birding on North Ronaldsay, I was massively frustrated to miss most of 2010 to illness, but luckily managed to return for the final and most exciting 3 months of the year. With added coverage by a few birding friends I’d dragged in, one of which being newly appointed Mark Warren, we had a very successful autumn. So finding out in the early part of this year that he, his fiancĂ© Fleur and Richard Else would joining the team was a huge boost and something I’d been nagging about since my arrival – extra birding staff (excluding Fleur). With double the usual coverage 2011 should be one to remember and make up for my absence last year.

The first event of this past week was the re-building of the small trackside heligoland trap (‘Lancie trap’), where my perfectionist ways conflicted with Mark “The Builder” Warren’s more rustic style; but the final outcome was an acceptable compromise and structurally level enough to concrete in the main framework and ramp, leaving just a little left to go and eventually the wiring.

The trap in progress.

Mark woke up a year older on the 5th, so his 31st was duly celebrated by a good turnout of staff and locals. All 8 of us enjoyed a good night, despite Real Madrid spoiling the early part of the evening. The beers, shandies, Irn Bru’s and even champagne were flowing well, and the same could have been said of Fleurs homemade chocolate birthday cake, created whilst battling power cuts – but as the old saying goes, it’s the thought that counts!

The cake may have been a touch heavier than intended, but that didn't stop us polishing it off in no time.

The remainder of the night involved the usual bird-related chat, only to be interrupted by a stray Norwegian girl in need of nicotine, cider and a piano – Honest! Fleur now had an excuse to abandon the birding politics debate, as did young Gavin who sensibly turned down a 10th Irn Bru.

By 2am Rick was sleeping, Paul’s head and eyes were dropping (maybe dreaming about tennis coaching or something…), Fleur had drunk most of her engagement presents and Mark had staggered off to bed; it seemed reasonable to call it a night.

More planting continued in what feels like a long week, though planting of more Flag Iris and ditch digging was left to Rick and Mark on Friday as I headed for the comparatively bustling Kirkwall for an occupational health check. But I was also armed with a shopping list: Dog biscuits and chocolate digestives for Mark, shampoo and shower gel for Paul, toothpaste and biscuits for Rick and more Listerine (they were on offer), two plants and a duvet set for me, as I recently acquired a second-hand double bed for my room. A touch optimistic on an island of 60 folk with similar figure for average age, but at least I’ve more space.

Fortunately, the plane's luggage allowance could just about cope with Rick and Mark's demand for biscuits.

The seven-seater Islander planes clearly pose too big a challenge for terrorists, as I climbed aboard unhindered despite hand luggage crammed with nothing but gels, creams and liquids, returning to the observatory just in time for tea and bar duty.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see your sense of humour has survived 2010 intact. Brilliant post!