Just before Christmas, the onset of a condition that I have suffered with for 20 years was making an unwelcome appearance. First denial, then more denial, a little panic, a visit to the doctor. Please not again. Three years had passed since the last 'flare-up' the longest period of remission experienced since the first diagnosis, forgive me for having felt invincible. The beginning of January was managable, not great but still enough fortitude for a couple of local patch visits. Then it set in. Brutal, tormenting, unequivocally cruel. The 1st of February, a visit to the hospital for an intrusive procedure and the inevitable admission. A total of a week spent at UCLH for aggressive treatment and back home to recover.
Ulcerative Colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that according to the National Association of Crohns and Colitis, affects 1 in every 420 people in the UK. That's a lot of people. High profile sufferers such as Darren Fletcher of Manchester United and former England rugby captain Lewis Moody have recently talked openly on the BBC about their particular struggles with the illness. It's not very nice.
I may be flirting recklessly with understatement here, but it was great to get out birding again today and heading gingerly down to my local patch was self-prescribed medicine that my spirit had been craving during difficult times.
Middlesex Filter Beds
The air was still and alive with bird song, the sun out, dare I say warm, Greenfinches, Dunnock, Wren, Great Tits, Blue Tits, all joining together in a pre-spring chorus on a day where it felt that spring had truly sprung. I'm not being lulled into a false sense of seasonal security here. Alighting at the Lee Valley Ice Centre (Sochi was too far), and two Chiffchaff were in full 'song' in the small wooded area just off the main road. I love that sound in February.
Middlesex Filter Beds rarely disappoints for such a small reserve. A walk along the relief channel returned 10 Tufted Ducks (6 drakes), seven Little Grebe, eight Teal, and 1f Pochard. Two Grey Wagtails flew down river, and a Jay sat pondering life in the thickets.
Tufted Duck - Middlesex Filter Beds 19/02/14
Further along the path, a Chiffchaff started to sing on the far side of the river, joined by a second in the central wooded area. It definitely felt springlike today. Of course eyes are always on the lookout for Firecrest and with a little helping of patience a single bird showed well on the far side of the relief channel.
Firecrest - Middlesex Filter Beds 19/02/14
Having eventually lost this individual to view, two birds were then later seen together in the central wooded area adjacent to the 'riverside' path calling and one male captured on the very poor attached video clip.
Just so great to be out and about again.