Friday, 23 March 2012

Birding Balance

Today I had an appointment with my ENT Consultant at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle late morning so birding time was split into two short sessions either side of that necessity. I headed out to a site where I have seen Willow Tit with a vague plan of trying to photograph that species but also with one eye on nearby treetops for Green Woodpecker. Hearing a calling GW yesterday reminded me that it is a species that has eluded me so far this year.
A few minutes into the woodland and I heard that familiar three note call nearby that alerted me to a Willow Tit, I was pleased after a little stalking to discover a pair frequenting a hole in a newly excavated birch stump maybe 10m in from the woodland edge. I parked my back against a nearby tree and watched for a good 20 minutes as they came and went. The images below were the best I could do hand-held and without a hide, not wishing to cause any unnecessary disturbance.

The hospital appointment was a good news/bad news scenario. Confirmation that I have 30% reduced hearing on my right side and the damage is permanent and irreversible. On the glass half full side the right side is still in working order and apparently all my birding is helping me retrain my brain to cope with the lack of balance data coming from the left side. Yet another reason to get out more! All to do with watching moving objects and a higher level of limb activity, oh and not looking at my feet. A series of daily exercises to supplement this was also provided.
Quick to put this new found excuse extremely important contribution to my well-being into practice I popped home for the scope and nipped out again this afternoon. The best I could manage was a self-stumbled year-tick Green Sandpiper, on a local backwater, presumably an individual that has wintered in the UK as it seems early for this species to be on the move up here in Northumberland, mid-April being a more typical expected date.

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