BackwaterFriday 26th May 2000
WE HAVEN'T SEEN Kingfishers on the canal for months but today there's a pair sitting on a branch sticking up from the silt island by the bridge over the Calder. One follows the other across the river - two bolts of blue - and they perch in the overhanging trees opposite. For a moment a think I've spotted a third bird in a willow by the island, but, as luck would have it, I haven't brought my binoculars to check it out.
A Mallard drake sits sunbathing on the beach with his feathers fluffed out on his back. This may be a way of getting rid of feather parasites, or, who knows, a way of building up its supply of Vitamin D.
Why do always look for a scientific reason for any animal behaviour? Perhaps he's just taking a well-earned break, sunbathing on the beach, after the stress of the breeding season. Like a holiday in Ibiza.
'Do all the bullies kick sand in your face?' was how the Charles Atlas advertisements used to describe life at the lower end of the pecking order.
I lean on the parapet for a few minutes watching as the traffic the bridge ebbs and flows at the lights. That's the advantage of walking; a lot of people must cross this bridge every day and they'll never see a kingfisher, a wagtail or even a duck.