There are a certain number of birds that, although I know they're almost certain to show up on my year lists sooner or later, are still a huge thrill when they do. Red Kites, as I've mentioned before, are one - some weeks I see them every day on the eay to work, and yet there's still something slightly unreal about it.
Down at Sence Valley Forest Park today, I came across another. I'd gone down to see whether, with spring seemingly upon us, any early summer visitors had arrived, particularly Sand Martins. No luck though, and despite the very mild and pleasant conditions, there was very little around at all, with fewer ducks and gulls than usual.
But, heading back to the car, I was on the bridge over the little stream when a flash of blue emerged from under it and arrowed away from me. A couple of minutes frantic searching later and I managed to find the Kingfisher's hunting perch, on a tree 50 or so yards upstream, and was able to get great views of him until he headed away towards the top pools.
As I say, it's not unusual to see them there (often perched on the Sand Martins' wall, in fact), but it's never less than exhilirating. For a start, their iridescent plumage looks so out of place in a country where plumage is generally on the dull side, and I often wonder why our Kingfisher is so ridiculously bright compared to others of his family overseas. But there's also something about the way they go about their business, all that keeping absolutely still for minutes at a time before exploding into lightning quick action, seemingly aware of nothing other than the fish they're lining up for their next meal. They're one instance where that hackneyed old phrase "poetry in motion" truly does spring to mind.