This is my response to my earlier Flashback Track Friday question. Fancied some flash today.
A contact had tipped him off. He saw a marvellous image on the web site they both shared. “Where were you?”, he had asked, and the friend had revealed, just passing on the GPS tag. Within a few yards. Gold dust. A rare species, the people who knew did not normally disclose specifics.
He plotted. They were most active at sunrise, plus he had to travel for an hour first. An early summer’s morning, but it could be done.
One hot, July, Saturday evening, everything was prepared. Clothes folded into a neat pile, equipment, spares, fully charged. His own GPS, ready to record the ride. He double-checked that his alarm was set to trigger at 4 AM the next morning, and took an early night.
He need not have worried, for the alarm correctly woke him. Rising silently so as to avoid waking the family, a very brief shower, enough just to rinse his slumber. Dressed, he packed the car. Quietly closing the front door behind him, he started the engine.
A still Sunday morning, he saw no traffic at this early hour. He drove quickly and reached his destination ahead of schedule. He’d already studied this. The supermarket car park was free, unmonitored, and was the closest to his eventual destination. He stepped out of the car and took his bearings. Towards the bypass. The irony was not lost on him – that these creatures enjoyed their existence so close to busy humans, scurrying past in their oblivion.
Excited, he was tempted to start trotting, but for the expensive equipment he carried. Two hundred yards out, he crossed the bridge, and found the stile just past, as expected. Manoeuvring himself carefully over, he dropped into the water meadow. The still-light traffic from the bypass was audible now, just a quarter mile away.
And this was it, he had arrived. They might be anywhere around here, so he was already alert. He walked toward a small copse. Extracting a lightweight, aluminium stool from his baggage, he settled to wait. Over his shoulder, the sun was gradually hoisting itself into the sky. Fifteen minutes, thirty minutes. He could not resist – nibbling on the sandwiches he’d packed for his lunch. On sentry duty again, he waited.
An hour, and then he saw it. That unmistakeable flash of electric blue, and then his first glimpse, as it settled on a branch, no more than five yards away. A lifetime of birdwatching spent waiting for this moment. He held his breath. He dared move only enough to press the viewfinder to his eye. He could not believe his good fortune.
I would like to pretend that this is just flash, but:
Rare in the UK, the Kingfisher usually announces its presence with a flash of blue as the observer realises that they just missed a flypast. Making their homes on river banks, they are very elusive, and adept fishermen. But this chap happily perched for several seconds, just ten or fifteen feet from me.
And, as a bonus:
Otters live wild in very few aquatic habitats in the UK, although fortunately, those habitats are growing in number as humans begin to understand the otter’s preference for an unspoilt, unpolluted environment.
To photograph either a kingfisher or an otter, in the UK, is a rare, memorable experience. To capture both, during the same excursion, is unforgettable.
A visit to Blandford Forum in Dorset, UK in 2011.