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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.”


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


Sea eagles give Loch Leven bird-watchers a thrill

January 16 2011

Eagle-eyed bird-watchers in Kinross have spotted a giant bird of prey at the Loch Leven nature reserve. Visitors have enjoyed the spectacular sight of white-tailed sea eagles flying above RSPB Vane Farm since last month. The majestic birds have been fishing in the nearby loch. One visitor described the sight as "amazing" and said she was "thrilled" to see a second sea eagle appear. The young birds are part of the East Scotland Sea Eagle release programme a partnership between RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Forestry Commission Scotland. They hope to reintroduce sea eagles to east Scotland, building on successful reintroductions on the west coast. So far 64 birds have been released through the initiative since it began in 2007. The birds are easy to identify due to their coloured tags the female (turquoise tag H) and male (turquoise tag Z) are just over 18 months old and were two of three birds seen at RSPB Vane Farm last winter. This winter they have been roosting on the Loch Leven islands, making the most of the winter wildfowl. A third bird was electronically tracked on Sunday at the reserve and is thought to be a bird from last year's release. Photo used under Creative Commons licence courtesy of Flickr user Robert tdc.

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.


Tagged golden eagle thought to have been killed, then dumped in North Sea near Fife

February 16 2018

A young golden eagle tagged in Scotland last summer is thought to have been killed just seven miles from the Scottish Parliament, and its body dumped in the North Sea. The eagle, named Fred, hatched at a nest site in the Scottish Borders in 2017, and was the offspring of the only breeding pair in the region. The bird was satellite-tagged in June in a project involving TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham and Dr Ruth Tingay of Raptor Persecution UK. It was hoped the protected raptor would go on to increase the vulnerable breeding population in the Borders, but it disappeared last month in suspicious circumstances in the Pentland Hills. Its tag “suddenly and inexplicably stopped” on January 21, only to resume transmissions three days later when the raptor’s GPS location was shown to be in the North Sea, 10 miles offshore from St Andrews. Campaigner Packham yesterday described the loss as “shocking” and expressed fears for the reintroduction of the species to the south of Scotland. He said: “Once again, we have the suspicious disappearance of a satellite-tagged golden eagle in an area managed for driven grouse shooting. “What’s truly shocking about this case is that it didn’t take place in a remote Highland glen miles from anywhere, but it happened within a stone’s throw of Edinburgh, right under the noses of the Scottish Government.” Dr Tingay said: “It is beyond doubt that Fred’s disappearance is highly suspicious. Golden eagles don’t generally fly out for miles over large bodies of sea water but even if Fred had done so, apart from defying everything we’ve learned about Scottish golden eagle behaviour, we would have seen excellent tracking data plotting his route given the reliability of his tag.”

Angus & The Mearns

VIDEO: Sea eagle shows he’s the daddy with double life in Angus and Fife

August 16 2017

A male sea eagle has proved his paternal prowess by successfully raising chicks from two different nests for the first time ever in Scotland. In a summer show of strength, the eight year old raptor, known as Turquoise Z, has been travelling between Angus and Fife nests almost 30 miles apart to play the doting dad role with two different females. The unusual behaviour, known as polygamy, is rarely recorded in sea eagles. Experts have recorded it on Scotland’s west coast of Scotland on a handful of occasions involving nests which were just a few miles apart — but the demands of providing enough food for both always resulted in failure. Remarkably on this occasion, despite the vast distance between the two Courier Country nests, there has been a successful outcome. At the nest in Fife, Turquoise Z has raised a female chick tagged Blue X with his usual partner and he has also managed to raise another female chick tagged Blue V at the nest in Angus with a new female. RSPB Scotland Sea Eagle Project officer Owen Selly said they were astonished to see the bird beat the odds with his double life. “Without the wing tags, which allow us to identify individual birds, we would never have uncovered this extraordinary story," he explained. “It is also thanks to a dedicated team of local volunteers from RSPB Scotland and the Tayside Raptor Study Group, who have been our eyes and ears on the ground, helping monitor the movements of Turquoise Z and the activity at each of the nests. “The success of a male sea eagle fledging chicks from two nests is a first for Scotland and we’re all very excited to see what they do next.” Turquoise Z was released in 2009 as part of the east Scotland reintroduction, and has been breeding in a Forest Enterprise Scotland Woodland in Fife since 2013 with a female released in the same year, known as Turquoise 1. Over the breeding season, he was seen leaving the Fife nest and arriving at the Angus nest some 28 miles away a full 90 minutes later — a long journey for the remarkable bird who still had to take shifts incubating and providing food for both females and himself. Andrew Stevenson, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) ornithologist said: “Such polygamous pairing or indeed trios of birds attending a nest has occasionally been recorded as the reintroduced population has established, but what’s amazing here is the distance between the two nests and the fact that both have been successful. It’s really important for the birds breeding in the east of Scotland to be successful in their early years to help establish the population.” Both sea eagle chicks have now taken their first flight from the nests and will soon be hunting for themselves. They have been fitted with wing tags and satellite transmitters so that their movements can be followed over the coming months as they leave their parents’ territories and start to explore Scotland.


Sea eagles sculpture lands at Dundee’s Grassy Beach

May 7 2014

Giant sculptures celebrating the return of sea eagles to the east coast have been unveiled at Dundee’s Grassy Beach. They were designed by current and former Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design students Katie Watt and Ellen Brown, who saw off a challenge by dozens of classmates to win an RSPB Scotland competition. Ellen designed the 8ft sculpture’s feathers to accompany Katie’s etched interpretation, with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund paying for their installation on the beach, which lies between Stannergate and the western end of Broughty Ferry. Sea eagles, also known as white-tailed eagles, were once common across Scotland but were driven to extinction by persecution. Having been successfully reintroduced on the west coast, a project was set up to re-establish them on the east coast too. Between 2007 and 2012, 85 birds were released. The women’s interpretation tells the story of the sea eagles on the east coast, from their appearance on Pictish stones to the first successful post-reintroduction breeding in 2013. Ellen, 24, said: “My class was given the great opportunity to work with RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, and Forestry Commission Scotland, to create work that would promote their East Scotland Sea Eagle project. “Not only was it exciting to be working on a brief with input from outside the art college, it also gave us a great chance to gain insight into a project we may not have heard about otherwise. “I’ve loved the opportunity to work with everyone and help create something that will allow people to gain insight into the reintroduction project the way I did.” Katie, 24, said: “It has been interesting to have the opportunity to work on a project that has become a reality. I hope that people will enjoy the site and it will encourage people to use the cycle path and walkway along the Tay.” The unveiling was welcomed by Councillor Will Dawson, city development convener. He said: “Ellen’s feathers and Katie’s etched interpretation are an exciting new public artwork situated in a fantastic location on the coastline with the open views up and down the Tay. “I hope people stop to view the work, and who knows, even see a sea eagle fly by.” Rhian Evans, from RSPB Scotland, said: “It’s great to see the success of the East Scotland Sea Eagle reintroduction project celebrated with such creative and striking interpretation. “Last year we celebrated our first successful breeding attempt on the east coast of Scotland in more than 200 years, and the success of that chick is part of the story that is being told here, thanks to the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.”


VIDEO: Twin hatchlings for Fife sea eagles

June 3 2017

Footage shows a sea eagle mother tenderly feeding one of her twin chicks, the latest hatchlings since the species was brought back to Scotland's east coast. Almost a century after the huge birds of prey were wiped out in the UK, the pair's birth has marked the 10th anniversary of a programme to reintroduce sea eagles. The raptors, also known as white-tailed eagles and often dubbed flying barn doors because of their 8ft wing span, were once a common sight in Scotland but the last one was shot in 1918. Filmed at their nest in a Fife woodland, mother Turquoise 1 can be seen in the clip bringing food to her not-so-little hatchling before father Turquoise Z swoops in to check on his young brood. The parents were among 85 birds from Norway released in the area between 2007 and 2012. The species' number is growing once more and they can often be seen at Tentsmuir Forest, in north-east Fife. This is the fifth year running that chicks have hatched in the programme run by RSPB Scotland, Forest Enterprise Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage. Graeme Findlay, environment manager with the FES team in Tay, said: “We are delighted that in this, the tenth anniversary of the project launch, that our star pair of white-tailed eagles have once again hatched chicks in Fife. “The birds kept us waiting, laying later than usual, but for everyone involved in the project we are delighted that they have successfully hatched twins. “It is because of the commitment and enthusiasm of the team of volunteers who watch the nest that we know exactly when the chicks hatched and we also get a fantastic record of the day-to-day activities of the birds.” It is hoped the chicks will flourish as last year’s Fife youngster, White L, has. Owen Selly, RSPB Scotland sea eagle project officer, said: “White L, is now a year old and we have been able to monitor his travels thanks to his satellite tag. “He has spent time in Deeside and Perthshire over the winter meeting up with White Diamond, a female who fledged from a nest in Speyside.” To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the project, a sea eagle festival is to be held on August 26 in Tayport, close to Tentsmuir Forest. A series of guided walks will also be held in the forest over the summer, on July 26, July 29, August 5 and August 9. For information visit RSPB Scotland’s website or phone 01738 630783.