Advanced Pilates

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The aim of this exercise is to stand on a step and place your chin on the riser below you, while stretching your arms straight back behind you – ideally without falling on your head. Note that this position is to be achieved via core muscle control and curvature of the spine, and not simply by flexion of the hip joints. Begin by taking a deep breath in, and raising the pelvic floor…

It was lucky that this cormorant decided to do its exercises when it did this afternoon, or I might have expired of boredom, or possibly cold, after several hours of unrewarded waiting in a chilly hide, the doors of which have been removed to stop teenagers using it as a trysting spot. The extra demonstrates the sad fact of nature photography that how excited you are to see a particular creature very much depends on what you were hoping to find when you set out.

Several weeks ago, in a hide in Worcestershire:
“There! Water rail!!”
“There! In the channel! Got it?”
“No!” Which channel?”
“Middle. Oh look – it’s preening.”
“Aaaargh! I’m in the wrong place! I can’t see it from here!”
“Move over here then, before it goes. I’ll shift over for you.”
“Do you mind?”
“No. Quickly, it’s swimming now.”
“Aaaargh! I’m going to miss it! Oh sorry – I didn’t mean to stand on you!”
“No prob. Just get your shot.”
“Really sorry! Can you breathe?”
“Just about. Did you get it?”
“Sort of. OMG – they’re out of focus. Really sorry – I’ll move again.”
“OK. Wait – it’s coming back – ow!”
“OMG – sorry! Are you OK?”
“I’ll live. Did you get it this time?”
“Yes! Thank you. I think so. Well – more or less. Light’s horrible though, isn’t it? Still… water rail. Wow!”

Today, after 90 minutes in a hide in Buckinghamshire:
“I don’t think this bittern is going to show.”
“Me neither.”
“Still, it’s early in the season.”
“I suppose so. OMG!!!!”
“She’s going to cancel the vote!”
“You’re joking!”
“I am not. She’s cancelling the vote. OMG!”
“OMG. Unbelievable.”
“It is. Do you think there’s any point hanging on for this bittern?”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about it. Water rail over there.”
“Yeah – it swam across the channel about five minutes ago.”
“Did it? Didn’t notice it. I really don’t think this bittern is going to show.”
“Me neither.”
“Think I’ll pack this in and go.”
“Yeah. Me too.”
“There’s always tomorrow.”

* In the interests of journalistic integrity I feel I should make clear that certain parts of both these conversations have been exaggerated, and others are wholly made up – but the essence of them is true…