Just went for a walk down Snake's Lane from Woodford Green and along the River Roding. This time instead of turning left and heading upstream like we did in summer, we turned right and headed downstream as we'd not been that way before. Not exactly the most picturesque walk, the M11 slip roads to one side and housing estate, giving way to industrial estate on the other. Most of the vegetation had been hacked back during the winter and, apart from the grass, all seemed bare and brown. Nevertheless as we started out there was a path of pure white snowdrops on the bank and, a little further on I spied a similarly pristine coloured bird like a small heron. An Egret actually, formerly a rarity but becoming quite common in the UK now. Unusual to see it on a small inland waterway though. The best was still to come though, as we carried on I saw a small bird skimming low over the water and suddenly flitting up to perch on an overhanging branch. Surely not, I thought, and grabbed for my binoculars. Yep, a Kingfisher! Glorious blue feathers shimmering in the pale sunlight, then a flash of orange underside as he darted further down the river.
I have seen a Kingfisher just once before, on a canal in Cardiff and The Wife has never seen one at all. I certainly never expected to see one here among the roads and concrete of the Woodford hinterlands. But perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised, I have just been reading Richard Mabey's "The Unofficial Countryside" which deals precisely with how nature colonises, or perhaps re-colonises the strips and patches of unwanted land; cleared building sites, disused canals, derelict factories and even the most unsalubrious of river banks, once man has left off and allowed things to grow back and recover a little.
I've seen a Kingfisher! What a very special treat.