I was just thinking that I hadn’t heard or seen a kingfisher for a couple of days when one started calling in the trees about 70 yards down river. Another answered straightaway from the bank just behind me. They never showed or broke cover, but there was a minute or two of high pitch, high speed morse code signalling back and forth between them.
Then as I got to the pond one took off into the reeds at the far end. It’s easy to hide behind them at the moment as they’re getting on for eight feet tall, but the thick blue green stems are turning to straw at the tips. They’ll soon be tilting and shrinking back into the water. This is where I saw a pair performing a pre-winter courtship ritual among the wild hops last October – it’d be good to see that again.
As I stood there a pair of kestrels came mewing and circling high overhead, much to the consternation of the pigeons on the church roof. Great tits are starting to call again. Not quite with the saw tooth sharpness of spring yet, more toneless and toothless. But it’s good to hear – I rely on robins and great tits for my birdsong fix throughout the winter.
There have been two mornings in a row when it’s rained in the night. The scent of the gentle southern breeze has been warm and soupy – fresh bread crusts and honey yesterday, camomile and spice mixed in today.
As I get back to the edge of town someone’s out with a punnet picking blackberries. There’s a fine crop already this year. I keep meaning to gather some myself – mustn’t leave it too long. As my mother reminds me every year, showing her Dorset country roots: you can’t pick blackberries after the end of September “cos the Devil’s piddled on ‘um!”