Tuesday 17 October 2023

A Stump in the Xiang River

I often walk along the Xiang river (湘江) on my way to and from work. The waters are more or less high now, but they rise and fall.

In the spring of 2022 the Xiang the flooded its banks leaving its adjacent walkways clinging and slick for weeks, to the displeasure of trepidatious pedestrians and the delight of muck-loving children. One consequence of the deluge was an uprooted tree stump lodged deep in the river, providing a private perch for fishing birds. From early summer to late August the perch was regularly visited by a black-crowned night heron.

Night Heron in the Xiang River
Latter in the autumn 2022, the heron deserted its post, and a little egret took over the perch. I would see this egret there often as I walked to and from my office, though it would stay for shorter intervals than the heron and often frequented other fishing spots.

Little Egret in the Xiang River

Until January 2023 this egret occupied the submerged tree most days, but during the intervals in which the egret was away, a cheeky pied kingfisher would take over the spot. If the egret saw the kingfisher fishing from his perch, it would be soon ousted. The log finally disappeared last summer and the drama ended. I am reminded of it now as I spend another warm Autumn walking to and from the same office.
Pied Kingfisher in the Xiang River