© 2014 by Barbara Copperthwaite.

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The realm of the Kingfisher

It was a dark, dull and decidedly damp start to the morning yesterday. With such bad light, it had been a last minute decision to bring my cameras along on the walk but there was a corner of blue in the sky that held the promise of growing. By the time I had reached the park, the sun was peeking out occasionally.

I have been walking every day in Highbury Park for a little over a year now. Sometimes it feels as though I have seen everything there is to see. And then it brings me a surprise, like a shy child presenting me with a gift. “See?” it seems to be saying, “I have a lot more secrets left to tell. You think you know me, but I have so much more. Keep watching.”

Yesterday it revealed something very special.

First, though, I tried and failed to get some photos of Long-tailed Tits. They called merrily to one another as they constantly moved from branch to branch, almost teasing me as I focused…pressed the button…and took a picture of an empty branch yet again.

Then I tried to snap a Goldcrest which landed right in front of me. Just the one, unusually, as they tend to gather together at this time of year. It flitted onto the branch of a bare bush beside the path and posed for me. For several seconds I simply watched, transfixed, then slowly brought my camera up.... Failure again.

So I decided to give up and call my mum. As we chatted, I walked into the little entrance of Henbury Pond, where so many dragon and damselflies live in summer, and saw something bluish fly across. Perhaps it was the Grey Wagtail. Hopeful, I apologised to my mum and popped her in my pocket for a moment, keen to get a snap of the bird.

There was a plop as something hit the water and came almost straight out again. A sparkle of brilliant electric blue. My heart started racing at that point.

I had strong suspicions about what was there, but told myself not to get too excited. I had heard, often, that there was a Kingfisher in the park and that it liked to sit on a long branch overhanging Henbury Pond whilst hunting. Despite eagerly looking for it, I had never seen it. I was starting to give up hope. It seemed too much to think that now I might finally meet the pond’s regal resident. I raised my camera, zoomed in on the branch where I could just make out some movement, and held my breath, telling myself once again not to get too excited.

Oh my goodness. There it was, sitting on a branch watching the world: a fabulous Kingfisher. Seeing it myself made it seem all the more vibrant as I took in not just that fantastic blue hue but also its soft orangey-red chest, touches of that colour on its strong head and long beak; the scattering of pure white which enhance the colours even more.

It was one of those magical moments; a gift from Highbury Park to me.

Even better, I managed to get some pictures of it.