From these glens and scars, the sound of the coot and the moorhen is seldom absent. Nature sits in stern mastery over these rocks and crags. The rush of the mountain stream, the bleat of the sheep, and the broad, clear Highland skies, reflected in turn and loch form the breathtaking backdrop against which Ewan McTeagle writes such poems as 'Lend us a quid till the end of the week'.
Team: James (Hull City), Joel (White Shite), & Mark (Hull City).
Targets: Pub, Slags, & Crested Tits (in that order)
Car: Vauxhall Astra (blue)(navy)
Luggage: New Socks (warm, 3 pack multipack) hand luggage, a car, a small bag of Sniffter, Optical aids. The optical aids were for recreation only.
Day One, underlined for importance.
Left Hull and L**ds/Sheffield at a staggering 02.00am, met at Boston Spa and drove right the way up to McMcDonalds for Mccoffee refreshment at Aberdeen. The party then went and looked at the truly remarkable Harlequin Ducky that was just mooching about amongst the coke cans and smack heeds of Aberdeens Seaton Park. Its diving action was pretty cool. James brilliantly found the Harlequin Duck by shouting "What the fuck is this? It's got some fucking white on it's its, like, head!" as he's a right sweary cunt. James held his arms aloft, shouting obscenities. Joel commented that 'he's right it's just here!' And there it was indeed, a fucking lovely Harlequin right before our very eyeballs about 10 yards away.
'What in gods name is it doing?' hollered James and he was right to ask. Just what in gods name was it doing in this picturesque urban park littered with lovely wildlife, green belt beauty and skinny betattooed smack rats. Nice though. Also nice was a Dipper that was stood on a branch. There is no more I can say about this.
Mark then drove very calmly to the Yythiyan estuary and it IS spelt like that. Nice place. Idyllic. Not bad. Eider, Barwit, Swich, and Joel picked up some simply wizard summer plumaged Long Tailed Ducks but alas no King Eider that had been present.
If ye could see ye way to lending me sixpence, I could at least buy a newspaper.
that's nothing much to ask anyone. Ewan McTeagle c.1970
Onward. Portsoy. White-Billed Diver territory. Two crazy old gentlemen were already there looking, alas to no avail. Mark then immediately claimed a White Billed Diver at 10 mile range with just 8x magnification bins based on the way it was holding its head because he is fucking brilliant at birding and that. Honest. Joel then super scoped it and confirmed it. We picked up 4 and a couple of Great Northerns and a single Redthroat. Going well.
This is where it started going wrong. They were equipped with sites but made the mistake of underestimating Scotland when not armed with proper local knowledge. They all expected to roll up at Caperwatch and see Capers. Look in the trees and see Crestie and Scots X. Look up Cairngorm and see Ptarmigan. Immediately. Its not that easy. They soon found this out and generally chased around a bit and saw not a lot else. They checked in the hotel and went to pub. The party had a quiet night of a slack 12 of Scotlands finest McTennents and washed it down with a curry at Aviemore's finest (only) Indian curry establishment. Take note would be travellers, we found out that the waiter here does NOT come quicker if you shout "Nutcase" across the restaurant whilst beckoning, for some strange reason. What is up with waiters up here? The discussions were blurred. Joel thought James was mad. James giggled with his face in his curry. Mark commented on how few slags were out. The less said about chilligate the better. Some conversation came up about how we thought James was going to behave at Caperwatch the following morning and how probably some old dear called Enid would be disgusted at us stinking like a brewery whilst talking far too loudly about Football and slamming the hide flaps and so on. James disputed this. The curry house was okay. Just okay. 'Nutcase' then wouldn't order us a cab the awkward twat. James and Joel pondered that this was only because Mark had shouted 'Nutcase' at him several times during the evening. James and Joel may have been right. Mark was not concerned in the slightest. They all walked to the digs. Curry house: 6/10. Onward.
Day 2. In bold for effect.
Up at 5 for Caper watch at Garten. A Caper was just out of view but on a camera. "Where the fuck can we see it from?" Joel shouted at the kind men who run Caperwatch. "Enid", who was a very small elderly lady, then approached Mark and Joel and said "Why do they put the hide here when
there's a Capercaillie over there out of view?". She had a point, a very warped point I might add. Still drunk from the night before, Mark and Joel could not even be bothered to tell "Enid" that they had to put it somewhere and that the Capercaillies can be seen anywhere.......etc. Also at Caperwatch was Paul Wicker the Tall Vicar. This man was well spoken and strolled around the place with his very long legs asking random people anything they've ever known about Capercaillies. Mark wanted more booze. James likewise. Joel did not comment. 'Twas 7am after all. We left and went back to the digs for breakfast: 9/10. Very nice. This break almost made any one of us legal to drive. Almost.
Cairngorm. Much to James relief there was a train up to the top (funicular - a fun train) which meant he didn't have to die on a ski lift. They "scored" Ptarmigan straight away from the restaurant. Better, back on track. The team commented that they liked Ptarmigans.
Oh gi' me a shillin' for some fags and I'll pay yet back on Thursday,
but if you can wait till Saturday I'm expecting a
divvy from the Harpenden Building Society.
but if you can wait till Saturday I'm expecting a
divvy from the Harpenden Building Society.
Went past Harpenden on the way home! But that's for later on. They saw 2 Ptarmigans at the top then 3 more on the way down. Cairngorm atop: 2, Cairngorm descent: 3. We also spoke to some people. These people lived around here so we deduced that these people were locals. They gave us a site for Cresty, time was starting to press sort of. We saw Cresty at this site and even found one nesting. Not bad at all. On the way up we'd seen a likely looking lay-by from where we could check out the local loch, a loch which was good for Black Throats apparently. We said we'd stop on the way back. Mark was driving and didn't see the lay-by approaching and Joel only saw it late. 'In here' Joel called, pointing to said lay-by. We were almost past it. James was snoozing bolt upright in the back. We will never make the turn off now. Mark calmly slammed everything on, flicked the back end out and made the unlikeliest of turns. During this, the bolt upright snoozing James then FLEW past Marks rear view mirror and ended up horizontal and certainly wasn't snoozing anymore. James lay rigid for three or so minutes until we all got out of the car. James mumbled something about not being killed or something which was neither here nor there to Mark or Joel who simply ignored his mutterings and found a Greenshank no less!
I haven't got a clue where we went after this but again, we fucked about and saw not a lot after this. We then went to the public house where we intended to make up for the calmness of the previous night with some proper drunken antics, we discussed the days events, drank McTennents and Brandy, and had a Chinese style meal that we paid for in the shop and they wrapped it up and let us take it out to eat at a place of our choice. We ate at the hotel and Mark probably spilt it over his pillow. Aviemore Chinky: notaclue/10. Mark was too drunk to rate this. Mark cannot vouch for Joel or James's coherence at this point so we have no rating for this establishment.
If ye could see yer way to lending me sixpence I could at least buy a newspaper,
that's nothing much to ask anyone.
Day 3. No fancy editing for effect.
Up at 5 for Caperwatch again! Shite. Again. No sign whatsoever, even fucking Enid and Paul Wicker had given up! So we went up tarn to try and see Black Grouse. The driver (anon) of our car then proceeded to do a "line" of Columbia's finest on his/hers bank card whilst speeding and at least four times over the limit, while the passenger steered the car from the passenger seat at 6 in the morning up a mountain. I am not sure how many laws were broken in this escapade but at least it perked the driver up he/she said later allegedly. This may or may not have happened. Mark was then confirmed as driving and once again nearly missed another turn, a right-hander this time but again screeched and calmly careered it around the corner. For a split second Mark thought about pulling the handbrake and flicking it round for added drama but we (the people at Q@Spurn) think that if he did James would've simply died right there on the spot. No clutching of heart, no hands around the throat as if he couldn't breathe before keeling over, he would've just died on the spot. Just expired. We again retired back to the digs for the complementary breakfast: 9/10 again, albeit at a different hosteleria. These ratings mean absolutely fuck all to you (the lone reader) as you don't even know where we were staying. I'm not telling you either.
Mark's landscape shot.
At this point we had only had a very feeble attempt at Scots X and no one seemed bothered! We went west. Go West. For Eagles. Easy? Again, no. The long trek to Skye was indeed a long trek. Once on Skye Joel got onto a Goldie. Marks brakes were again tested and came through with flying colours. The Goldie, an adult, simply flew about above our neeps (that was a good joke) and showed very nicely, very nice indeed thank you. It was joined by a Raven which was simply trying to put it off its business.
As usual the afternoon was quite disastrous, chasing all over the Isle of Skye looking for White Tails, alas to no avail. We headed to Portree as this is the largest town for accommodation, lager drinks and restaurants. Tourism is surprisingly massive on Skye, its quite incredible the number of visitors it gets. Joel sorted some digs and we were off into town. Several drinks later and Mark had seen a Thai restaurant signage earlier in the piece. Alas it was nowhere to be found so we found ourselves in a curry house again! Excellent! Although it wasn't that excellent. The waiter stopped serving us and started to close the place around us without anyone calling him Nutcase or anything. We were the only ones in but it was only half ten on a Saturday night! Youd have thought theyd want the business. Mark even tried to purchase Brandy in a panic that there may be no more alcohol that night and they still turned him down! Joel's balti looked like a leucistic chicken tikka massalla and was, in his words, 'Shite. Like Leeds'. Back to pub (thankfully) for nips of brandy and more chilligate discussions. The three explorers spoke of colourful, varied subjects, some too deep to discuss whilst pissed up including Third World War, Glorious Five Year Plans and, inevitably, women's tits. Curry munching: 4/10
To ma own beloved lassie, a poem on her 17th birthday:
Lend us a couple of bob till Thursday. I'm absolutely skint.
But I'm expecting a postal order and I can pay you back as soon as it comes. Love Ewan.'
Day 4: Boating and driving. (Courier Italic)
From the harbour in Portree there are 'wildlife trips' which include the very probable
sighting of White Barn Door Eagle. Two members of the crew went on this trip whilst the other member bought far too much fudge and toffee. The two members enjoyed okay views of a juv White Tail and the female watching on concernedly. A Great Northern and a few Black Guillemots and not a lot else really but worth it. Now.....the drive home. SIX hours after setting off we were.......still in fucking Scotland! Jesus Holy Mary just how big is this country? Another three hours after that and we were all home safe and sound due only to Marks sensible driving and cool navy Astra car. Mark and James "relieved" the boredom of the long drive by reciting McTeagle and nothing can quite match the huge sweep, the majestic power of what is surely his greatest work: 'Can I have fifty pounds to mend the shed?'. Us here at Q@Spurn are not sure whether Joel thought this "hysterical" recital actually relieved or indeed added to the boredom of the long drive.
Can I have fifty pounds to mend the shed?
I'm right on my uppers.
I can pay you back when this postal order comes
Hope the bladder trouble's getting better.
Sponsored by Q@Spurn birding tours. Our tours operate all seasons and only cater for alcoholics. Anybody wanting to come along must bring their own Class As. Q@Spurn reserve the right to call a halt to any birding at any time of the day to go on the piss. Here is a selection of this years tours:
Scottish Highlands on uppers and downers.
Pilled up tour of the Broads of Norfolk.
The brothels of Prague (non birding tour)
Paralytic seawatching in Cornwall (August)
Shetland slag-fest (October)
Scilly on crack (fully booked)
Brandy, Es and whizz one nighter at Filey (in association with Lee Evans)
Perhaps James or Joel erm....or Mark.....might like to add their take on the trip, either email Q@Spurn birding tours or just put something in the comments like you usually do!
Its only taken 5 months to publish!