Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Once bittern...

One consequence of having cancer is that you never quite know what is going to happen next. Katie and I still find ourselves caught out by the ability of the disease to surprise, something that was most recently illustrated when I got my last scan result (see my post "Scan results" from 14th February).
I was reminded last week that my hobby, wildlife photography, shares this propensity for the unexpected. I visited the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust reserve at Slimbridge with the intention of photographing some of the common woodland birds that visit a feeding station there. On the way to the feeding station I decided to quickly pop into one of the hides where, from time to time, a bittern is sometimes seen. Bitterns were once extinct in the UK but are gradually making a recovery thanks to conservation efforts. The population is still small, with just 104 male birds recorded in the country in 2011 and so seeing a bittern is still difficult especially as they spend the majority of their time hidden deep in the reeds and because they are superbly well camouflaged.
As soon as I entered the hide I knew that the bittern was around because of the gaggle of photographers all staring intently into the reed bed at one end of the hide. It took me several minutes to locate the bird in the reeds - only the third time I've ever seen one of these elusive members of the heron family. Initially the bittern was obscured by too much undergrowth to provide any photo opportunities, but over the next two and half hours it engaged in a game of "now you see me, now you don't" - very occasionally emerging into more open patches of reed where it could be photographed. Getting some shots of such a rare bird was certainly unexpected and made for a very enjoyable morning.
On Thursday and Friday last week I had my 11th Trabectedin infusion. As usual the process went smoothly. So far the side effects have been pretty much the same as previous cycles and hopefully there will be no surprises as this cycle progresses.

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