Sunday 28 October 2012


I am very very young, especially in birding terms. Most birders are ancient and decrepit, and use their now defunct draw-telescopes as crutches. By contrast I am a ball of energy, dynamic, fun, youthful, decrepit. Oh dear. Yes dear readers, it is true, I am falling to bits. When I got home from Shetland I discovered a pain in my left side, a kind of dull ache. I assumed irreparable liver damage from the preceding week, and thought nothing of it. Three weeks later - Thursday - I decided it was annoying enough to go and see the doctor at work. I got asked a load of questions, mainly about whether everything 'down there' worked, and was asked to hop onto the examining table. However before I could be prodded and poked, the doctor discovered I wasn't a permanent member of staff and the consultation ended abruptly with something latin and horrible-sounding scribbled down on a piece of paper. I've thrown the bit of paper away, but it ended in 'itis'.

So on Friday I went to see a doctor where I live. We had the same chat as I'd had the previous day, and once again I hopped (in a very sprightly manner becoming of my extreme youthfulness) onto the examining table, whereupon I was prodded mercilessly. Does this hurt? "Aaargh!". How about here? "Ooof!". Here? "Gaaaaaaah!". The nerves in my left side and right side responded equally to forceful poking, with the doctor sensing that the left side was indeed marginally more agonising for me. Then came the truly fun bit. Could I take my pants off and stand up? Why yes, I'd love to. FFS. I'll spare you the grisly detail, and it's not like I was planning on having any more kids anyway, but I'm pleased to say everything in that particular department is just fine. An interesting experience, and one I'm not keen to repeat overly soon, but I suppose I can thank my lucky stars that a prostate examination was deemed unnecessary. This time.

So, with dangly bits confirmed in good order, the diagnosis firmed up a little. It wasn't 'itis' after all, rather it was likely that I had a hernia, but that I was too fat the doctor was too concerned about prodding me too hard to be able to feel it properly, and that the best thing to do would be to have an ultrasound scan of the area, and that if indeed, as seemed likely, a hernia was confirmed, the next step would be to have a friendly chat to a man with a sharp knife. Well whoopee, that is just what I needed. A hernia? I'm 37! My father gets hernias! Pah! What does this mean? That I have to bird the Scillies instead of Shetland from now on?

In other less graphic news, it's been rather a good weekend on Wanstead Flats, with spectacular vis-migging from the watchpoint. Fieldfares, Woodpigeons, and unseasonal Lapwings were the standout birds in terms of quantity, but I also got my very own Brambling and more Linnet than I can ever remember in one day. My hernia, if that is what it is, doesn't yet prevent me carrying a camera, so I can still pap slow-moving and dim-witted birds, like this lovely Fieldfare, one of over 600 that flew over my head in just a few hours this morning. Very few actually landed, but I was able to sneak up on a small party that lingered for a few minutes.

The only other interesting bird-related thing that happened this weekend occured over lunch today. As I sat contemplating a large plate of roast chicken, surrounded by adoring family members concerned for my health, a noticed a large white bird disappearing with big slow flaps over the treeline to my north-west. Ignoring the pain in my side I leapt to my feet, grabbed the nearest pair of bins and scrambled out onto the terrace. Too late! Whatever it was, it was gone and I wasn't going to see it again. It reminded me of a Heron......a large white Heron......I texted the Professor as he was kind of on the flight path, but whatever it was never reached him. However if a Great White Egret (or a Pelican!) is found in the Lea Valley in the next day or two I'm having it!


  1. It's all that leaping across little burns on Shetland - puts a dreadful strain on the old tummy muscles. You've 2 options:

    1. Wear a weight-lifter's belt next year
    2. Shuffle safely around Scilly with all the other codgers

  2. Alternatively you could go on a strict diet during the winter and emerge fighting fit and unrecognisable fir the Spring.

  3. As you probably know by now Jono, hernias are pretty common, particularly inguinal hernias in the groin. And I think it's a weakness in the 'groin' at birth that contributes and makes it fairly likely to occur at some point if you're active. I had a football induced one repaired a few years ago and my team-mate had two done just last week. Laparoscopes make it much less invasive these days and I was playing again in a few weeks - just a few days of discomfort immediately after the op.

    BTW, your liver is on the right! Put your fingertips up under your ribs and that hard thing stopping them is your liver. Do the same on the left side and you'll see the difference.

    All the best with it