Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis). Words and picture by Matt Sewell.
A bird from the absolute elsewhere, the Kingfisher is a celestial work of art. So otherworldly that even he’s aware that looking upon his tiny frame can make mankind ask the biggest of questions and doubt all that he knows and has ever been told. So, kindly, he offers us just millisecond glances or fleeting dashes until he’s off to blow the next yawning mind.
With a miniature cloak of incandescent blue and a chest orangier than a polished satsuma on Christmas morning, one would expect a song of sublime delicacies, an ethereal paean to herald a gathering of monarchs and magi. Unfortunately, to be the king of all fishermen requires you to have a brutal dagger for a mouthpiece, resulting in a taut, high-pitched whistle of a call. Disappointing maybe, but study this whine and you will stand a much better chance of spending time with the most brilliant of all British birds.