canal ways No 1 – kingfisher

Walking home from Lisburn along the canal I heard a bird call I did not recognise coming from behind me, a ribbony sort of chirrup. I looked to my left in time to see a kingfisher flying with his brakes on up the canal, like a F-14 coming in to land on an aircraft carrier.

There something magical about seeing the kingfisher, most of the birds on the canal are drab, dare I say it boring?

The moorhen, dabchick and dunnock are the plain janes of the towpath, the odd time a blue tit or long tailed tit will add a bit of life to the party but its the sight of the kingfisher that sets my pulse rushing.

As winter sets in I wonder how they will get on this year. Last year must have hit them hard with the freezing conditions, especially when the main way you feed is to dive into water to catch a fish. Imagine trying to stay warm after diving into an icy canal?

The kingfisher also reminds me of  the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem

‘As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;’


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