There were two birds sitting on a perch…

… and one said to the other “Can you smell fish?” *

Seeing herons daily standing in the shallows or on the bank, and cormorants flying high overhead or diving for pearls, it’s easy to forget that both large birds do in fact perch in trees (herons even nest in them).

Then unexpectedly a heron comes barrelling out of the top of a tree like a small pterodactyl, and really wakes you up. Or you come round a bend on a wet and windy evening and in the top of a sparse tall tree there are half-a-dozen cormorants perched in that vaguely unsettling upright stance, silhouetted against the dark and lowering sky like something out of The Addams Family.

Perhaps even more surprising in its way was seeing a red kite and a cormorant perched high in the same tree, only about a foot apart, and seemingly quite happily ignoring the other’s presence. I know neither is really a threat to the other, but red kites are usually mobbed by anything that moves. I guess cormorants aren’t into mobbing.

And on a sadder note, the black swan cygnet seen at Kennet Mouth on the way down (see here) was spotted with the two adults as we crossed the river to the marina, although looking rather smaller and weedier than we might have expected. But the next morning, the two adults were paddling around the marina on their own. And we saw them several times in the marina and outside Tesco over the next few days, each time with no sign of the cygnet. Ah well, that’s nature for you, I guess.

* With apologies to Simon Mayor.

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