It was crazy bonkers mad here this morning, let me tell you. I took my bucket of tea up to the conning tower and surveyed the dawn. It was kicking off like Stokes Croft on a Friday night when a new Banksy's appeared; over the hill a herd of cattle were apparently murdering each other. The rooks were sharing dirty jokes in the trees on the skyline. The yellowhammer complained endlessly about a lack of cheese, and was meanwhile taunted by the reed bunting, who assured us that he had sixty flavours of cheeses.
An odd grunting, almost lost in the aural clutter, in the reeds opposite. I waited. And then waited some more. Presently, the reeds shook and with a great PLOP the otter dropped into the water. A gentle wave advancing along the bank, and a bowing of the reeds, marked its passage, a hundred yards along and then up into the cave of an overhanging hawthorn. The briefest of shadows, and then silence.
Presently, a tubby torpedo hurtled towards me. I kept very still; kingfishers are fond of perching on boat tillers. At the very last moment, it noticed me and peeled off; the sun that shines straight down the cut at dawn caught it in an explosion of red and blue.
It settled in the fallen tree. We waited. Presently it plummeted down, then reappeared, perched, smacked its bill, and went on its way.
Cycling down the towpath yesterday, I passed a boater who was carting her baggage onto the boat. She had a large and expensive looking camera. "Got any good shots?" I asked. "Oh, no, I'm a professional photographer," she said.