It’s been a magnificent Autumn.*

Wonders never cease. Out cycling on Friday, by the stream at Pairc Ui Chaoimh, a kingfisher flashed by. All touquoise, blazing over the water, and then he banked just as he passed and gave me a view of his lovely orange breast. At the Atlantic Pond a grey wagtail was bobbing about all clean and yellow (don’t ask it’s a bird thing). The grebe chicks seem to be doing fine, and there are pintails newly arrived.

And then, on my way back from Passage I noticed the unmistakeable insouciance of a raptor over the water, gliding into some gorse on the shore. I got off to have a gander (ha ha) and it wasn’t happy so off it took again with that arrogant lazy grace that only cats and birds of prey can muster. I think it was a kestrel, but for a moment it might have been my first sighting of the wonderfully named merlin – come down from the mountains for the winter to the coast, as they do. Turning right onto Jacob’s Island, a small flock of lapwings amid the seaweed, foraging. Na Pilibíní, with their little black jaunty crests above their heads. Cool as a breeze they were, mixing it with curlews and a few sanderlings.

Last week my brother Padraig, walking past Finbarr’s Cathedral, heard an unusual guttural gurgle overhead. It couldn’t be, he thought, but when he looked up there were peregrine falcons sparring with Ravens for the high point. RAVENS. In the city! He reckons it’s a young pair on a bit of a winter skyte, up to divilment, riling some of the locals, before heading back to a quiet remote breeding ground in the Spring. Later, he could still see the falcons circling above the spire. Amazing.

And the leaves! Autumn has been kind to us this year and kept the colours so bright and the leaves up for so long. The railway line through Blackrock and out to Passage is like a patchwork quilt. Here the small russet lobes of the oak, there the rich gold and amber of the sycamores. And the beeches are a spectrum from green to yellow, to ochre, to russet to brandy. There’s a larch on my road and, though this morning’s wind will probably take a lot of the needles, for the last few weeks it’s been giving a kaleidoscopic display.

There they all are, just there, right there.

 * Written November, 2015

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