I don’t have a bucket list per se: I have a number of animals that I know I want to see, but I want to see them doing very specific things. Here’s an idea of what I mean:
- Red deer rutting
- Otters romping
- Kingfishers fishing
- Stag beetles stomping
- Grey seals basking
…And as of today I can proudly say that I can tick one of them off.
- Kingfishers fishing
About three weeks ago I decided to book two days off work for no reason other than to relax. I was going to be working overtime the week before and thought a three-day weekend would be exactly what I would want. It soon dawned on me however, that every one else would be at work and I would be twiddling my thumbs.
So I set myself a target. A target that I thought I would have to travel on a bus for one hour, sit in a bird hide for a possible two hours and then hop back on the bus to achieve. I was prepared to do this and had even announced to my friends at work that this was the week I would see a kingfisher fishing!
Cue a text from one of my best mates saying they were in town for the next 48hours.
Thinking he wouldn’t want to endure the above slog, I decided I would postpone it till the next day. Instead, we both headed out to my/our local patch for a walk so we could squelch through mud and throw sticks in rivers.
What I didn’t realise was the planets had aligned; I would both catch up with my friend and see a kingfisher.
Whilst standing on a bridge and gazing down the River Colne I saw just above the water’s surface a tiny burst of electric blue darting downstream. At first I thought I had mistaken a blackbird for a kingfisher in my thirst to achieve my goal. But as luck would have it, the bird flew straight onto a perch overhanging the centre of the river and stayed stock-still.
Immediately I jumped with joy and grabbed my friend. Quickly realising that I needed to be quiet if I wanted to grab a photo of this notoriously shy bird I composed myself. We crept along the riverbank, slowly getting closer, whispering in excitement and sheer disbelief. I managed to get a photo that, considering I don’t have a DSLR, I’m pretty chuffed with.
My friend described the whole experience like playing ‘Pokémon’. For those who don’t know, in the game, you purposefully wander through patches of long grass waiting for Pokémon to appear and attack you. The aim of the game is to catch every different type of Pokémon possible in these fights (there’s hundreds). You can sometimes spend hours wandering through the same patch of grass because it’s the only one in the entire game that has the specific rare Pokémon that you need to catch. I couldn’t agree more with his comparison. I had been walking in the same area for nearly 17 years and had never seen my rare Pokémon, but today I caught it (on camera).
After I took the photo we must have got a bit too close for comfort as the fisher launched off it’s watch post and did a fantastic flyby upstream. Red arrows eat your heart out!
In a vain attempt to feel the same rush of discovery, we followed it up the river and onto a path I hadn’t ventured down before. The path revealed this abandoned miniature watermill and the first snowdrops I’ve seen this ‘spring’.
We carried on walking and chatting along the way: reminiscing, confiding and dreaming big. It was the perfect start to the day, and one that I want to have again…straight after I’ve finished digging out my Gameboy and completed Pokémon.