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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

Fishing with The King


The Kingfisher has two favourite perches beside Henbury Pond in Highbury Park, and now that I know both I automatically glance at them as I walk by, just in case. Today, luck was with me, because there it was, sitting patiently.

I stood watching for an age – I get a little star-struck around Kingfishers, I have to admit. It was long enough for me to decide that I was watching a male, the tell-tale signs being that the underside of his beak was an orangey-red (the females is more black) and his legs and feet are red too.

At one point he decided to move across from one beloved spot to the other, giving its high, clear pirrip call; a very clean, clear sound. Then, suddenly, in a flash of electric blue, he dive-bombed into the water, emerging with a silver fish in his mouth (probably a stickleback). He flew onto a little log in the water and rested on that; bashed the fish against the branch a few times, moved it round in his bill, bashed it another couple of times and then swallowed it whole. It was fantastic to see!

Then this wonderful, beautiful bird returned to his perch and sat taking the world in. At one point he looked straight at my camera, but didn’t seem bothered at all. A little while later, the Parakeets went over making an absolute racket and I got a picture of the Kingfisher looking up at the sky watching them go by. Finally, I decided it was time to move on.

It had started out quite a nasty day but quickly cheered up. The sun was out, and although it was windy, it was mild (but I’m glad I popped my hat into my pocket just in case because standing around watching things can make you a bit chilly after a while). The Crows and indeed Seagulls seem to be making the most of the wind and sun by riding the thermals above me, wheeling around. The Parakeets didn’t look so happy though, seeming to be hunched against the wing as the pair sat side by side – they always seem to be together, a very loving couple indeed.

It was such a breezy day that every now and again little twigs came flying down, but Scamp very much enjoyed that because I think she thought the trees were throwing them for her.

As well as the usual suspects of a cheeky Robin here and there, watching me with those bright, intelligent eyes, Blue and Great Tits, Magpies, a Jay, and of course, the Wood Pigeons (which were so fluffed up against the wind that they looked like balls), I spotted a rarer sight as I was heading towards the park’s exit: the Greater Spotted Woodpecker. I don’t often see this bird in the park (despite it being a resident) and so it was a treat for me. I whipped my camera out, and although I did get a couple of shots, part of it was obscured by a branch…and so it looks like a headless woodpecker. Needless to say, I won’t be sharing those on this site!

#kingsheath #kingfisher #highburypark #parakeets #ringneckedparakeet

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