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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

UK & World

Fears for missing sea eagle after signal is lost in Aberdeenshire

May 10 2018

Gamekeepers and land managers from an Aberdeenshire estate have appealed for help in locating a sea eagle whose satellite tag was last recorded in woodland near the River Dee.Invercauld Estate, near Braemar, said its ranger and gamekeepers have been working hard to find the sea eagle whose tag last signalled on Saturday.The tag was said to be last operating within a native woodland and scots pine regeneration zone on Invercauld.Pellets are understood to have been found in the vicinity of the search, which suggest the sea eagle had been roosting there.But neither the bird nor its tag have been located within the woodland or estate. Efforts continued to find the bird on Wednesday with one other sea eagle and two golden eagles spotted but as yet, there have been no known sightings of the absent sea eagle.Angus McNicol, estate manager at Invercauld, said: “We have spent the last two days trying to locate any trace of the missing sea eagle and we will be continuing our efforts to watch the area in case there has been a technical malfunction of the tag and the sea eagle returns to roost again.“For several months our ranger has been working with the RSPB’s sea eagle project officer to track the movements of the sea eagles in our area and if the tag is no longer transmitting then it is a concern to us. “Invercauld hosts a vast range of bird species and other types of wildlife and we want to learn if any harm has come to the bird.The estate is part of the East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership with the Cairngorms National Park Authority and bird species include golden eagles, sea eagles, buzzards, merlin, kestrels, golden plover, curlew, lapwings and black grouse. It also works with conservation bodies including the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland on their wildcat breeding programme Mr McNicol added: “We realise that such cases where a tag stops transmitting will invariably attract comments about persecution but it is clear that gamekeepers, conservationists, and the Cairngorms National Park Authority all want to see this bird alive and well.“We would ask anyone with information that could aid the search to speak to the RSPB or ourselves immediately.”

Outdoors

SSPCA’s rescued sea eagle back in the wild

October 13 2010

The Scottish SPCA had to step in to nurse a sea eagle which had been released into the wild only weeks ago as part of a programme to reintroduce the birds in Scotland. Now, after some TLC at the charity's specialist wildlife rescue centre near Dunfermline, the young female bird has once again flown the coop. It is the first time that the charity has rescued, rehabilitated and released a sea eagle. The young bird was found struggling to survive on the west coast. The white-tailed sea eagle was one of 19 youngsters released in Fife a few weeks earlier as part of the east Scotland re-introduction programme organised by RSPB Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage. Since 2007 the project has released 63 of the birds back into skies above the east coast of Scotland. The latest batch of 19 were released from a secret location in Fife in August having arrived from Norway last June. But it appears one had soaring ambitions, which could have had tragic consequences. For Yellow 3 named for her identification tag decided to leave for the west coast. She then had to be rescued from Ardnamurchan by SSPCA Oban senior inspector John McAvoy last month. After being spotted by a dog walker, Mr McAvoy found the youngster soaked and unable to fly. She was also lean and in desperate need of feeding. He fed and cared for the bird overnight before taking her to the SSPCA's centre at Middlebank in Fife.Yellow 3 "naive"Centre manager Colin Seddon said, "Thankfully she had no physical injuries. "She was simply naive and got caught up in bad weather so all she needed was resting and feeding up." He added, "After recuperating in our care we released her last Thursday at a secret location." To help the young bird on her way food is being left out for her at the point of her release. Mr Seddon said the rescue mission was a team effort including Mr McAvoy, the RSPB Scotland and staff at the wildlife centre. He said, "We're all delighted to have been able to help this stunning bird, which has suffered much persecution over the years despite its protected status." RSPB Scotland Sea Eagle Project officer Claire Smith said, "Our young released eagles all behave differently each year and while the majority of birds are in Fife and Perthshire this young female flew over 100 miles in a couple of days so it's no wonder she was tired. "We are grateful to the Scottish SPCA for helping to rehabilitate this young eagle-at the early stages of a re-introduction every bird counts." Since the bird's release she has been monitored by her radio tag and has been checked on daily. Ms Smith said, "She's in really good condition and flying well. "It will be interesting to see where she ends up next." To report an injured or distressed animal call the SSPCA on 03000 999 999.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Perth & Kinross

Bald eagle has landed

March 26 2010

A magnificent bird of prey ended his flight of fancy almost 24 hours after disappearing from his Perthshire home earlier this week. Pilgrim, an eight-year-old bald eagle, had been driven out of woods near the Phoenix Falconry in Auchterarder by resident buzzards on Monday afternoon. His distraught owners, Lynn and Adrian Hallgarth, spent several fruitless hours searching for him, before issuing a heartfelt plea to the public. Following his return late on Tuesday night, Lynn said, "You wouldn't believe the sigh of relief we all made when we found out he was safe. He has never done this before and it was just amazing to see him again. "What happened is that Pilgrim landed in the territory of the buzzards while they were nesting and he obviously got a little bit too close for comfort. "The other birds have basically booted him out of their area and he had to move on somewhere else."Big softieConcerns were raised about "big softie" Pilgrim's ability to survive in the wild, as he was hand-reared and is unable to hunt for his own food. Fortunately, a surprised birdwatcher came across the giant bird on Tuesday evening on Sheriffmuir, just 10 miles from the falconry. The team were contacted and rushed to the scene to collect their tired and frightened bald eagle. "He was very pleased to see us," Lynn said. "He saw the vehicle and, obviously we didn't want everybody climbing out and scaring him because we weren't sure what kind of reaction we would get. "We just let Tom go out of the car with his glove, which he held up. "Pilgrim looked over pretty quickly and flew around the farmhouse before flying straight down to Tom. He was pretty hungry because he had been out all night without any food." After recovering, local celebrity Pilgrim will be returning to his role as one of the stars in the centre's bird handling lessons. Lynn continued, "I just want to thank everybody who called in while he was missing, because it was so nice to know that they were aware of it and were looking out for him."

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Outdoors

Investigation into golden eagle pesticide death in Strathdon

May 6 2011

Tayside Police have joined their Grampian counterparts and wildlife experts in probing the death of a golden eagle on an Aberdeenshire estate. Grampian and Tayside officers and the Scottish Government rural payments and inspections directorate carried out a probe at Glenbuchat Estate, Strathdon, over the alleged use of illegal pesticides. The inquiry began after a dead satellite-tagged golden eagle was found on that estate on March 29, and it tested positive for banned pesticide Carbofuran. The operation also involved the National Wildlife Crime Unit, RSPB and SSPCA. Wildlife crime officer Constable Dave MacKinnon said, "We are always very concerned when illegal pesticides are used in our countryside for the poisoning of birds of prey but I am particularly disappointed that this incident has resulted in the death of a young golden eagle. "Our efforts in Scotland and Grampian to eradicate this type of crime over a number of years have been challenging and clearly, with this most recent incident, we still have some way to go." He added, "Articles have been removed from the estate and are being sent for analysis. "Nobody has been charged in connection with this incident or other offences but inquiries are continuing." Bob Elliot, head of investigations at RSPB Scotland, said, "This highly toxic chemical, which it is illegal to possess, was found to have poisoned this golden eagle. "Poisoned baits lying out in the countryside are indiscriminate, and threaten both pets, domestic livestock and even humans." He added, "That such potentially lethal activity continues in this day and age is an outrage, and threatens the international reputation of Scotland as a haven for wildlife and iconic species. "Despite all agencies and partners working together to eradicate these crimes, we do not seem to be witnessing any reduction in this type of offence being committed against our world-renowned wildlife and natural heritage."

Outdoors

Eagle is reunited with mother

December 30 2010

A young white-tailed eagle has been reunited with its mother on the Isle of Mull having recovered from a broken wing and leg. The eight-month old bird arrived in the Scottish SPCA's care in September, having been found struggling on the ground by a local farmer, and has been looked after at the rescue centre near Dunfermline. White-tailed eagles are being reintroduced to Scotland as part of the Sea Eagle Project, a partnership involving the RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland. Colin Seddon, manager of the Scottish SPCA's wildlife rescue centre near Dunfermline, said, "We take on any eagles which require rehabilitation as part of the project." He added, "Luckily his injuries were healing naturally, so we kept contact to a minimum and allowed nature to take its course." The eagle was returned to his nesting site and will be monitored by Mull Eagle Watch. Rescuers were relieved that the parents seemed to welcome the youngster back upon its release. "To our amazement, after about half an hour sitting on a shingle beach, he was joined by his mother, who we identified via her wing tags," Mr Seddon added. "There was a real chance that she'd have tried to chase him off. "However, they communicated with each other, sat together for a while and then the mother flew away." He continued, "The following day they were joined at the release site by the father, and again there was no squabbling." He continued, "Food is being put out for him for a short time and we've seen him feed which is very encouraging. "Wildlife rehabilitation is a major part of the Scottish SPCA's work and we were delighted to be able to provide our expertise to help return such a beautiful bird to the wild." Dave Sexton, RSPB Scotland's Mull officer, commented, "It's been touch and go for this young eagle and although it's early days since his release we're delighted that he's recovered. "Now it's up to him we've done all we can. "It could have been a very different story were it not for a real team effort from the Mull farmer who found him, the Scottish SPCA and the estate who welcomed him back. "Every chick is precious and we want to return these magnificent birds back to Scotland's skies so we're extremely grateful for everyone's efforts. "To see what was once a badly injured eagle reunited with its mother after three months away brought a tear to the eye of those watching. It was a heart-warming and touching sight."

Angus & The Mearns

Wildlife expert’s law move call to save golden eagles

August 19 2016

A Tayside wildlife expert has called for landowner sanctions to be put in place to protect one of Scotland’s most iconic species. Alan Stewart, a retired Tayside Police wildlife crime officer from Perthshire, said the list of “poisoned, shot, trapped and vaporised golden eagles is growing ever longer”. He was speaking after a review was ordered by the Scottish environment secretary to “discover if there is a pattern of suspicious activity”. Roseanna Cunningham ordered the review after eight golden eagles vanished in an area of the Monadhliath mountains known for its grouse shooting, south of Inverness. RSPB Scotland believes they were killed illegally around grouse moors, and their satellite tracking tags destroyed. Mr Stewart, who previously worked as an intelligence officer with the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit (NCWU), said: “Gamekeepers maintain that golden eagles are not a problem, yet I was told by a former head keeper that an eagle flew over a grouse drive one day and was seen by the landowner, who told him it better not be there on the next shooting day. “Eight golden eagles known to be missing in an area of grouse moors, together with a further golden eagle found poisoned in the same area in 2010 tend to confirm that golden eagles are still being eliminated.” Mr Stewart said that despite often lengthy investigations by wildlife crime officers, the only solution “lies outside” the current wildlife legislation. He said: “My view is that although the wildlife laws in Scotland are excellent by way of investigative powers for the police, wildlife crimes committed in the uplands are extremely difficult in which to obtain a conviction. “Wildlife crimes committed on driven grouse moors are almost impossible to prove since there must be evidence to identify the individual responsible. “The law in these circumstances is pretty useless and the change necessary to reduce these crimes is some sanction against the owner of the land where the wildlife crime is occurring. “This may be by way of reduction in subsidies, which may be possible if we are no longer in the EU, or a more likely way is to license shooting estates and revoke the licence if there is evidence on the balance of probabilities on the estate. “Police Scotland, the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage are well aware of the problematic estates. “Estates staying within the law should have no concerns and in fact should welcome licensing if it addresses the problem, which tars all estates with the same brush.” The Scottish Moorland Group, which represents landowners and gamekeepers, said there was no clear evidence of the golden eagles having even died in the Monadhliath area. Tim Baynes, director of the organisation, said there was a clear process for investigating the disappearance of satellite-tagged birds, which involved the police.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

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