Sunday, January 8, 2012


While walking Biscuit this morning I had a nice surprise as we were crossing the bridge over the creek: a long, chattering bird call caught my attention. I looked over in time to see a flash of white as the bird dropped from its perch and skimmed the water, then the bird landed on another snag projecting from the water. Now I got a good look, and as expected it was a kingfisher.
Years ago I found a place where the creek banks were high and there were holes dug in the banks: these were the nest tunnels of the kingfishers.

Kingfishers are the sort of bird of which it can be said "you see them when you see them". What I mean is that although they are probably always back there patrolling  along the creek, I don't expect to see them every time I'm down there.

The technical name of this bird, Ceryle alcyon, is a bit of a redundancy: both words mean kingfisher in classical Greek, although both words were also used to name a mythological bird. The English expression  "halcyon days", in the sense  "the good old days when things were better, less hectic", is derived from the name of the mythological bird, which was thought to have the ability to calm the seas during its winter solstice nesting period at sea.

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