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What we learned this week about dead birds, the Cullen dinosaur, BBC salaries and Odysseus

The public were shocked by what they found on many beaches, while others were critical of high salaries paid to BBC presenters.

Beach walker Mike Shepherd snapped the devastation on Cruden Bay. Image: Mike Shepherd/ DC Thomson.
Beach walker Mike Shepherd snapped the devastation on Cruden Bay. Image: Mike Shepherd/ DC Thomson.

A beach walker was horrified after discovering more than 100 dead and dying birds on Cruden Bay beach.

Mike Shepherd enjoys a constitutional along the sands at 7am regularly, but was so distressed he abandoned his stroll and subsequently revealed that the sight caused him to “gasp with horror” after he witnessed dozens of corpses littering the beach.

He could spot the hapless creatures, which were victims of a virulent outbreak of bird flu, all along the beach “as far as the eye could see”.

And there were reports of similar scenes at other coastal locations in the region.

Paying to meet the Provost

Inverness Highland Games are being staged today – and attendees have been offered an experience with a difference.

In addition to the usual heavyweight events, athletics, piping and dancing competitions, members of the public can enjoy a lunch in the civic tent – for £75.

The price includes meeting Provost Glynis Campbell Sinclair, ringside seats for the games and lunch in the tent. However, some people described the move as “tacky” and one responded: “So it’s only those who can afford to pay. That’s not democracy”.

Cooking up a Cullen stink

Dinosaur head on rooftop in Cullen
The dinosaur has stood proudly in Cullen for nearly a year. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

The psychedelic dinosaur towering above the doorway of The Outlet in Cullen has certainly turned heads, but Moray planning officials have ruled it must be removed.

There were a few cheeky jabs at the local authority over the decision and one resident Scott Aspland said: “Our council officials must be a right laugh at a party.”

Gav Lewis added: “There are a few dinosaurs in Moray Council needing removed first. At least the Cullen dinosaur brings a bit of fun into folks lives.”

Peddling a brighter future

A brand-new mountain bike park has opened at Cairngorm Mountain Resort.

The new facility offers trails for families and advanced bikers, with nine flow trails hugging the mountainside near the Cairngorm Base Station.

With more than 1.9 miles of trails which twist and bank down the mountain, the new facility is an asset to the resort during summer.

The project, which cost £700,000, has been inspired by bike parks in Europe and is part of the resort’s 25-year masterplan.

Lineker and Ball head the big earners

Gary Lineker remains the BBC’s highest-earning presenter. Image: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Former England footballer Gary Lineker headed a list of the BBC’s best-paid stars for a sixth year in a row, earning £1.35m in the last financial year.

The Match of the Day host’s appearance on the annual salaries list was confirmed four months after he was briefly suspended in a row about his impartiality.

BBC Radio 2’s Zoe Ball was the second-highest earner, with £980,000. Another star striker, Alan Shearer, was third with £445,000.

Who’s zooming who in legal case?

A Michigan jury ruled that a document found in Aretha Franklin’s couch after her death was a valid will to her multi-million-dollar estate.

A two-day trial pitted the late Queen of Soul’s children against each other in a battle over two handwritten versions of the singer’s final wishes.

When Franklin died from pancreatic cancer in 2018, it was widely believed she had not prepared a will. But, nine months later, her niece Sabrina Owens discovered two separate sets of handwritten documents at the singer’s home in Detroit.

Panto talk in July. Oh yes there is

Greg McHugh as Gary Tank Commander with Alan McHugh as Nurse Nellie Macduff. Image: Darrell Benns.

It might be the middle of summer, but details were unveiled of the Christmas pantomime at HMT in Aberdeen, starring Gary: Tank Commander actor Greg McHugh.

The Bafta winner said it was great to finally bring the well-loved character up to play a panto in the city and added: “I’ve been desperate to get him to Aberdeen, but he has always been out on manoeuvres in the desert.”

D’oh, it’s another Johnson arrival

Boris and Carrie Johnson announced the birth of a son, their third child together and the first since he stood down as prime minister.

Frank Alfred Odysseus Johnson was born on July 5, according to a social media post by Mrs Johnson, who added: “Can you guess which name my husband chose?”

However, classical scholars pointed out that, in Homer’s famous work, Odysseus left behind his family to seek adventure – and many other women – on his epic journey.

Baggings a charity book in Dundee

A rare first edition of “The Hobbit”, discovered in Dundee, raised more than £10,000 for Cancer Research UK.

Cancer Research UK has earned more than £10,000 from a rare copy of The Hobbit, which was discovered among donations at a shop in Dundee.

The charity revealed that the first edition of JRR Tolkein’s classic fantasy novel, published in 1937, was found in the back room of its superstore in the city.

The novel, with illustrations by the author, mustered £10,099 in a sale on eBay.

Nats in a spat

SNP MP Angus MacNeil confirmed he will not re-join the party’s Westminster group when his suspension expires and accused the party of being “clueless” about how to achieve independence.

The Western Isles MP had the whip removed for a week after being accused of threatening chief whip Brendan O’Hara during a row in Parliament.

He has now said he will sit as an independent MP until at least October.