Monday, 8 December 2008

Monday 8th December 2008

Acrobatic skating championship

Today I took part unintentionally in the above competition! I left home in Exmouth where it was a bit cloudy and there was a dew on the car. 4 miles up the road I arrived at work at 7am. I opened the car door, took 3 paces and went absolutely flying! Black ice everywhere! I reckon I was horizontal about 4 feet off the ground for a nano-second. I crashed heavily on my side, ie my hip, my arm and my shoulder took the brunt of the fall. Now, as you all know, I'm not so young as what I used to be. There was a time when I would pick myself up, brush myself down and forget it. Not now though. It hurt! I lie there for a bit thinking 'Blimey, I hope no-one saw that - I feel such a prat', or words to that effect! As I was in pain I actually led there for quite some time. In pitch darkness. Lying on black ice which was cold. Feeling like a prat.
I eventually felt able to move and obviously feeling very sore, I checked to make sure nothing was broken. Luckily, there wasn't. I staggered into the office, where I checked myself for damage before anyone else should arrive. I had a scored arm which also carried a large lump. My shoulder and hip although unmarked had been heavily jarred and gave me the most pain. Eventually some colleagues arrived and promptly told me I looked ghastly. Now, those of you who know me probably think I look ghastly most of the time, but today they obviously realised I looked more ghastly than usual! Eventually again, someone in authority arrived and told me to go home. I had a few chores that I needed to get done, so this took me 3 hours to achieve. I was beginning to get bum-ache from sitting on my damaged side so I left for home.
After some taking it easy on the sofa and not being able to get comfy, I decided to take myself off for some therapeutic birding, reckoning that keeping myself moving was a better bet. I drove down to Shelly Beach and watched the birds as the tide got higher. I enthused over the Brent Geese, I took in the Red-breasted Mergansers. I watched small parties of Ringed Plover and Knot making the most of the last-remaining sandbanks. Turnstones called. Shelduck swam. Little Egrets waded around in the rising water. A Grey Heron ignored the rising tide. Oystercatchers and Grey Plover added to the spectacle, along with Dunlin and Curlew. When you're in pain, even the Cormorants and Shags look good! Redshank and what I presume was the local Exmouth nutter also put in appearances! The latter was wading through the icy-cold water carrying a mountain bike. Honest!
Further on I skirted the building site, where they are constructing even more unsightly appartment blocks, which folk with plenty of capital will buy for outrageous sums of money, then as has happened before, complain about there being "too many bleddy seagulls about - one gets woken up at first light" and "why do I have to draw my curtains back and see all those awful boats?". Yes this has happened and even got a mention in the weekly paper! Thank God for Black Redstarts. The first one was watched on some rooftops near the marina basin, until a Herring Gull decided that HE would like to sit on those ridge tiles. I carried on along to the seafront, but the sun was reflecting badly off the sea, and all I could make out were 2 Wigeon and a female Red-breasted Merganser.
By now, my side was killing me. I had to return slowly to the car. Luckily, as I approached the Exe sailing club, my attention was drawn to a small bird flycatching from the end of a flagpole. This turned out to be a first-winter female Black Redstart, a different bird to the one I had seen earlier. By now, in pain, tired and thirsty, I reached my car, fell in and drove home for refreshment. I hadn't been back more than two seconds, when my good lady arrived. I then had to recount my ice-skating finesse!
After sitting around consuming sandwiches (which had originally been made for work!) and a tasty cream cake (which hadn't!), I popped up to Bystock reserve up on the edge of the East Devon pebblebed heathland (more commonly referred to as the 'Commons'). Now if you look back at my blog, you will see I paid the reserve a visit a week or two back and saw nothing. Today I saw not much more, but did hear some other birds. There were ten Mallard on the big pond which is something of a novelty, there normally being 2 or 3! A Crossbill flew over calling which I managed to get on to with the bins, before it sped on over East Budleigh Common. A Buzzard was heard mewing in the distance and a Green Woodpecker was having a good laugh at my inability to see it. Several Grey Squirrels were chattering away to themselves and scampering up trees, trying to hide from me. But again, birds seemed to be scarce. I just could not get comfortable. My aching shoulder and hip gave me trouble, and worst of all it started to drizzle. So I gave up and headed for home.

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