I set off today on a gentle 10km jaunt round town, not wishing to overstrain after the rather more taxing cross country slog yesterday.
I had only just gone through the kilometre mark, dropping down onto the cycle path from London Road, when I caught sight of a vivid red breast sat on a low branch. My first thought was, "Bullfinch!" - the vivid strawberry split colour of the breast was highly reminiscent of those chunky little finches although I'd never seen one on the cycling path.
But then the bird flew off from its perch above the drain on the left of the path, and flew off to a tree next to the lake. As it did so, the expected white rump did not appear; instead, it was the neon blue back of a kingfisher that headed off to a new, human-untroubled fishing spot.
This must have been the same bird I'd seen a few days before, between the Barnby Lane and Clay Lane bridges; they are known to have waterfront territories extending over a mile. But to see it down on the cycle path, on my patch, is an amazing treat. Such a beautiful bird, and I'll wager so many of the dog walkers and pram pushers, runners and cyclists, are unaware it is there.
I've no idea why it has decided to settle in on the Sustrans 64 drains compared to where it was before, and we've never had a resident kingfisher along here in the 6 or 7 years I've been running this route. There are certainly rich pickings of sticklebacks and toadlets to be found in the shallow water, but it is a busy stretch in terms of human activity and noise.
Whatever the reason, I'm delighted it has decided to stick around on my regular running route. I hope to see plenty more of it.