New Year

As is inevitable at this time of year, other than the fact it’s New Year, most people come up with some sorts of resolutions that they are going to attempt to stick to throughout 2017.

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Sunrise from the Isle of May, July

Well, I am most people so this is what I’m going to do. First though, a recap of the past year.

2016 has been probably my best year yet, and I know that’s a very big statement but hear me out. For a start, I began last year with the New Year Plant Hunt, having had no previous botanical ability (other than tree ID), and yet, armed with my new Collins Flower Guide and some pure determination, I managed to pull off 5 New Year Plant Hunts in a 4 day period, identifying (very nearly) everything correctly.

From there I’ve developed what I feel is a good botanical knowledge, given the majority is self taught. I’ve definitely had help though and wouldn’t have progressed as much as I have had I not had social media and the right people around me.

To sum up how far I’ve come, I saw a small plant in Camperdown Forest Park in Dundee in September and had a feeling it was Wintergreen. I’d never seen Wintergreen before and couldn’t recall looking at it in any books or online and yet, I was correct. Anyway, here are some botanical highlights…

Really, all of my field skills have come on leaps and bounds this year. I’m a marine animal surveyor with ORCA; I now know my dragons and damsels, am confident with bumbles, and have delved into the world of lepidoptera; my bird ID is still getting better and I’ve enjoyed many more birding highlights this year which I guess I can’t really leave out of this blog, considering it’s called “Birding with Gus”. So here we are, a few highlights…

(There are dozens of other pictures I’d have liked to include here but you’d get bored, trust me. Check out my Flickr page though as I’ve uploaded all my good pictures to date. Use the search function or have a browse through my albums.)

Those pictures were taken all over Scotland; Loch Leven, the Isle of May, Creag Meagaidh, Barra, Wester Ross, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee… And that is actually one of my biggest highlights. Having been given so many opportunities to visit so many places and see management, botany, birds, insects, etc. that I wouldn’t have seen if I’d stayed in one place. It’s been a fantastic year of travelling about and I hope my continual movement continues into 2017!

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Visiting many places = meeting many people. And what a brilliant bunch of people I’ve met. All full of knowledge, so kind and great fun to be around, and for that I’m extremely grateful (how soppy is that?). My progress is a result of other peoples’ constant support and encouragement and whether I’ve met you in the flesh or through a screen, I’d like to say thank you.

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To be honest, 2016 was so full of great things that I can’t sum it all up in one blog post. All I’ll say is that 2017 has a lot to live up to… but I have a feeling it’s going to be good (for me, perhaps not so good in terms of politics, climate, etc., but I’ll try my hardest to make an impact in the world of conservation).

The best way to have a good year, as I learnt from 2016, is to start it well. That’s why in 10 hours I’m going to a New Year Plant Hunt with Wild Reekie, just as I did last year!

Plus, I’m laying out a few things I’d like to do throughout the year, ‘resolutions’ if you insist. But, that will have to wait until tomorrow as I’m tired and my wee brother’s just got back from New Year’s celebrations.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

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Me getting ready to dive into 2017…
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New Year

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