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Dealing With The Unexpected By Maria Richards Taking a tip from our feathered friends. With the changing seasons I'm reminded of the local walks I enjoy taking and in particular one time when l I went for a long walk, which included a stroll over the Ferry Lane Bridge. This is a main route through an area where busy traffic carries people further into East London. Below the bridge and at either side lies part of the Lee Valley walking route. Here the canals and local river join within a wide open green-belt of land, serving the community with two major reservoirs. The whole area teeming with wildlife and nature’s surroundings. You couldn't get two more opposing things coexisting right next to each other – here is a busy car-fumed arterial hub surrounded by a tranquil water-carrying oasis. As I stood looking over the bridge with the traffic behind me, I saw a small bird, which I recognised as a coot, all on his own and travelling down river towards me. He looked a jolly sort of chap and he moved at quite a cracking pace, and with no other wildlife in sight, I became totally engrossed by his journey as the river carried him closer and closer to the bridge. As he relaxed into the flow of water neither of us realised that there would come a point where the river would change in intensity, testing his strength and ability to cope. As he got closer to the bridge, the peace of the water was broken by an unexpected surge causing a swirling, strong eddy, nudging him towards the concrete posting, exposed to the threat of being dragged towards the metal support hanging low in the water. For a moment he appeared to panic as he attempted to put the brakes on; I could see the splaying of his webbed foot as he reacted by fighting against the current. The battle was hard as he lurched his head to the left and right. My heart rate increased as I willed him to overcome his plight – all the extraneous noise of traffic disappeared, as my senses became totally absorbed in how I could help him. I called out encouragement, willing him to find an opening that would help him to overcome this situation ... and to my surprise he just stopped struggling ... he relaxed and then literally dived below the level of the water: he was out of sight. The water was so clear and yet he was able to disappear from view. Only the green-vegetation below the level of the water was visible to the eye and at that moment a calmness returned to the surface. What was once a destructive surge had abated and in its place a change – a gentle ripple pushed its way further and further across the expanse of water. Leaving a sense of calm stillness. I waited and spoke gently to the depths ... coaxing the bird in his route back to the surface, imagining his journey ... and what he would be experiencing in the 8