Don’t Look Up

I have written about binocular stabilization and have several ideas for posts on places accessible to birders with disabilities, but I now find myself “disabled” and unable to actively bird.  I’ve waited a month to whine about it but with spring and warblers coming, I’m starting to get frustrated.

At the end of January, I apparently damaged a nerve in my neck as I did some exercises in our cellar.  I felt nothing at the time but the next day, my left arm, hand, and pinkie finger were tingling and burning – and have remained that way for 34 days, but who’s counting.  Several days into it, I realized that raising my eyes to look for birds lit off the sensations, and that by lowering my eyes, I could get it to subside.  Additionally, driving the truck is very tough — I just can’t find a relief position for my aching arm.

I won’t bother you with the litany of MRI, PT, traction, and pain meds but let’s just say that progress is not being made … yet.  We’ll figure it out but meanwhile, I’m trying to find ways to bird in this condition.

I need birds down low but virtually all our water is frozen so aside from a few hardy Mallards and mergansers, there’s not much to see.  Likewise, except for a few American Tree Sparrows, not much going on with sparrows yet.  I need to get out and look for male Red-winged Blackbirds which are starting to show up and soon, we’ll start getting warblers.  It’s going to be tough to see them high in the trees.

Black & White Warblers can come down to eye level.  photo by dick mansfield

Black & White Warblers can come down to eye level. photo by dick mansfield

So, my non-whining strategy is this:

  • bird by ear more than eye right now,
  • find terrain where you are high enough to see birds level with you (I recall seeing Black & White warblers at eye level on our land)
  • find warbler areas with small trees and bushes — not towering White Pines and Soft Maples
  • Use the telescope, with its angled lens, to look above the horizon

I know that as painful as this situation is, it is temporary.  I just need to actively push the health care folks for action and answers — it’s easy to get lost in the system if you don’t make a few waves.  And I need to continue to develop the appreciation I have for people who deal with chronic pain every day – and still go on with their lives.  So, this will be my only post on my ailments – hold the applause – and we’ll focus on spring birding, our ongoing decisions about RV travel, and my County Big Year (which is pretty much on hold).  Spring will come, the snow will melt, my arm pain will become a bad memory.  Stay tuned.

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