Friday, November 29, 2019

A kingfisher at Charleston

Common kingfisher: photo by Charles J Sharp
Mum and I are sitting by the pond at Charleston farmhouse after visiting the Omega exhibition of  designs by Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Robert Fry.
We've wandered out from the cafe, where sparrows flew freely over the tables, hopped around the floor and perched on a chair next to us.
There are still flowers in the garden - roses, a hollyhock - among tall dried heads of globe artichokes.
Fish have been making circles in the pond and Mum needs a rest so we sit on a bench in the sun.
We've had days of rain. In the cafe there was no music other than birdsong. It's the same outside - quiet visitors allow birds the air.
Then a flash of colour. A kingfisher is unmistakeable. I saw one on Sunday streak down a drainage ditch when I was on a bus to Cork airport. Now another, here on a Friday afternoon, settled in a tree directly opposite.
We watch. A group of three women stands behind and waits. They move off, it leaves, comes back and then the dive. It carries the fish to another perch and we watch a flickering in bare branches, the sun on scales, the bird's head shaking and then stillness. The bird flies off.
As we stand to go, move towards the thick water to look at the fish, they come in a mob, used to being fed and poke their open mouths above the water level.
I remind Mum of the kingfisher we saw when we walked near the house she moved from in Tunbridge Wells. I remember the kingfisher that used to live on the river at Elstead when I was a child. Both of us, I think, needed to see that bird today in the sun.

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