He hovered, about to dive. His iridescent blue plumage caught in the cool warmth of the spring sunlight and reflected in the waters below. Prey in sight, under the pale rippled surface of the river, the hungry bird pulled his feathers in tightly in anticipation of his next move. A gentle hum interrupted his rapt gaze and with a flip of his stubby tail, he darted to the river bank, all thoughts of his tasty meal deserted. An old low wooden boat came into his view. With its engine barely audible, the slow moving boat rounded the bend in the river almost indiscernible against the untidy woodland at the river’s edge. A woman sat tranquilly in the bow, hand trailing through the blueish grey water, leaving memories like shadows from her fingertips in the boat’s wake. Reflections of bright green from the new Spring leaves of the beech trees and wisps of silvery bark from the birch wavered ghostlike in the ripples around her, dancing on her face like shadows. The man at the helm gently guided the fisherman’s boat through the river’s meanderings; his eyes gazing along the banks either side of him; the tall reeds and yellow iris reflected in his expectant, silent eyes.
The man’s faint intake of breathe made the woman and the bird both look up. The warm breeze whispered as time froze. The tableau in front of them came into view through the mottled light. A majestic stag stood, head raised, nostrils quivering. The splendid prongs of his gilded antlers bronzed in the sunshine. A beautiful doe stood beside him, her flanks twitching slightly in rhythm with her breath; her gentle eyes alert, watching. Their fawn, almost imperceptible in the camouflage of his dappled young coat, as transfixed in time, as his parents. Humans, deer and bird were vividly suspended; the universe holding its breath from the absolute beauty of it.
With a snort, the stag raised his head and with the fluidity of one in flight, he, his doe and their young fawn, leapt and turned as one. The white of their tails dazzling, tantalizingly, as they ran. They were gone. The clearing, where they had stood, seemed suddenly silent. With a sigh, the boat traversed the corner and disappeared too, from sight.
With no more distractions the bird ruffled his spectacular feathers, raised himself off his stubby little legs and with the speed and grace of one so proficient in his hunt, he soared into the air above the river once again. Watching, elongating his body into a streamlined lethal weapon, he finally dived. As he emerged again through the surface of the water, spangled droplets glistened on the scaly skin of a fish as it thrashed in its final death throws within the bird’s beak. Rainbows of colour, in seeming communion between water, scale and lustrous blue of the bird’s feathers, fell across the water as he rose. Belabored slightly by his prey, he flew slowly to the protection of the river bank and the kingfisher, in all his brilliance, silently relaxed and began to eat his meal.