Welcome to my blog. If you live in Surrey and birding is your obsession (to get out of bed at some ridiculously early time of the morning, no matter what the weather, to go and look at birds isn't normal behaviour, believe me) and you're still a bit of a novice (like me) then, hopefully, this blog is for you.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


My good mate Graham James always does his best to raise my spirits when I've had yet another dip. I really shouldn't let dips get in the way of the enjoyment I get out of birding, and it's not as though I'm really a twitcher. I'm not a patch watcher, either. I'm a pitcher, I guess.

But, seeing as I haven't been at this hobby for that long - although my wife would probably disagree - there are so many birds I would like to see. And it is frustrating when spending valuable hours staring at an empty bush or walking miles for nothing.

That is the way with birding. It's not like other pursuits, like following your favourite football team or going to the theatre. You might be disappointed at the result of the match, but at least you wouldn't have gone all the way to, say, Newcastle, only to end up waiting outside while the game was going on, or travelling to Sunderland by mistake. Or finding out the game had happened the day before (unless you really are an idiot, of course... I once drove all the way to Sheffield for a stock car meeting only to find it had been cancelled the day before - so I even dipped that).

At this juncture, Graham will be thinking that I should be more philosophical. He would say a bird missed today is one to see tomorrow or in the future. He is absolutely right, of course, but an incident at the weekend has made me think otherwise.

We were visiting a friend, who's husband is away on tour of duty. She was getting some help from a neighbour repairing a fence in her field. He was a bit older than me, and was puffing a bit as he used a fence post driver to ram in some wooden fence posts.

It was made of solid iron and weighed a ton - really it was a job for two people. I offered to take over to give him a rest. It started off OK, but it wasn't long before disaster struck - or to be accurate the fence post driver hit me on the head. I'm not sure how I managed it (I am accident prone), but I hit my head hard. A bit too hard.

And immediately, I feared the worst. It didn't help that blood began to pour out of the wound at such a rate it was going into my eyes and down my arm. "I think I need an ambulance..." I said, as I dropped the driver, held my head and sat on the ground. I could tell from the faltering tone in both Annie and our friend's voice that it didn't look good. There were a few tears.

I was convinced I had fractured my skull at the very least. Annie said she felt the blood pumping out while she pressed down on my head with a cloth and loads of tissues. I just sat as still as I could as we waited for the ambulance to arrive - being in the middle of nowhere, this took 20 minutes.

During the wait, I had time to contemplate. What the bloody hell had I done? How long would I take to recover? Would I recover? Is the wound bad? How will I get that work the next day finished? How will I earn any money? Will I be able to go birding tomorrow? Would my life get back to normal?

It was an alarming moment in time, when you wished you could turn the clock back a few minutes, but knew it was too late for that.

The paramedic's ambulance arrived in the field, but before I could get treated, the paramedic tripped over the fence and gashed his leg. Great, I thought. My survival is at the mercy of an idiot.

Actually, he was a good bloke. He checked the wound, and luckily it wasn't as bad as it had looked. An inch-and-a-half gash in the top of my head was all it turned out to be. I immediately relaxed. I wasn't concussed and was already preparing for the future after A&E.

I got glued up and was back on my feet within a couple of hours. But if the fence driver had hit me at a different angle or around my eye, or a fraction harder, it could have been disastrous.

I know I got away with it. But it made me realise what a fine line it is from being OK to being badly hurt. And it only takes a second for your life to be turned upside down. So, that is why I am currently of the opinion that waiting for a future opportunity to see a bird is not for me. I want to see it now.

One consequence of the bang on the head, however, is that I appear to be dipping even more than usual...

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