Tuesday, September 13, 2005


It's just occurred to me that I've seen quite a few kingfishers in the last twelve months. I'd not seen any at all, ever, until September.

Clare and I were at The Letoon, a sacred site in Lycian Turkey that contains temples to Leto and her two children, Artemis and Apollo. There's submerged buildings there, broken columns and foundations, two thousand years old, that peer out from water that is populated by turtles, terrapins, ducks and dragon-flies.

Flitting about the place where kingfishers, they’d grab something from the water (the terrapins would poke their head out of the water in their slow outrage at the trespass) and glint past in flashes of metallic blue.

The next time I saw a kingfisher, he or she was perched on a fence post at Keyhaven nature reserve by Lymington on the edge of the New Forest in Hampshire. It’s a salt-flat on the edge of the sea, with the Isle of Wight looming, on that day, out of the storm clouds like a fat Daily Mail reader looking for something to tut at.

We were there early March this year, trudging through the sleet and had already twitched away by the Turns, plovers and oystercatchers but to see a kingfisher in the UK; I had thought at the time, is a rare privilege.

Then we was walking along the rubbish strewn river Don that runs through Sheffield. The red brick industrial past was rotting around us, pallets and shopping trolleys were tangled up in the weed of the river and Sheffield tried to smothered the river where it could, it seemed.

Then I saw the metallic blue flash, it skimmed the river and disappeared under one of the bridges. The river must have life for the bird to live on it, must have been cleaner than I thought, despite the crap people had thrown into it and despite the cars grinding past it.

A kingfisher lived here, too.


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