Almost 2 years ago to this very day on a sunny morning at Reddish Vale, Stockport I witnessed along with a couple of other people one of the most amazing sights I have ever encountered while watching wildlife...6 Kingfishers lined up together on some shrubbery in the middle of the main Mill Pond.
It was a very proud day for me as we watched the two adults and healthy four offspring sitting there in the sun.
A proud day because I had spent hundreds of hours watching these birds over a magical two year period and this was indeed as good as it gets.
It would have been almost unimaginable a few short years earlier that you would see this most beautiful of birds thriving in such a place...Pollution in the River Tame that runs through the Vale like so many of the waterways of Greater Manchester at the time was very high and this success story owes a lot to United Utilities and many local folk who put in time and effort to clean up the area.
Stockport actually is a little bit of a hotbed for Kingfishers and now boasts many good locations to spot these wonderful birds.
Although I have watched Kingfishers at many locations, I have never felt such a affiliation like the one I felt for the birds of the Vale.
For over 2 years I spent up to 8 hours a day of my spare time observing these birds to the point of obsession!
In sunshine, rain and snow I would sit quietly with my thoughts hoping to capture even the smallest glimpse of a Kingfisher...Many fruitless days were spent waiting for this most frustrating of subjects, but a few unforgettable seconds from time to time when the birds would be active made it all worthwhile.
Although the rivers and waterways in my local area are now probably as clean as they've been since the start of the industrial revolution some 200 years ago and Kingfishers are thriving all over the Borough, it saddens me to tell you that the resident Reddish Vale birds are no more.
I last saw one at the start of January 2010 and although there have been reports of the odd one flying up the river it seems that the terrible winter we suffered at the beginning of the year took it's toll on this population.
I do hope to find time in the coming months to photograph birds at other local locations, but somehow I don't think it will be quite the same...