It was around 11.30 am following The Night of the Grand Conflagaration, or the night that I left my husband in charge of lighting a small fire and got a furnace as it is also known.
I was in the house making yet another unsuccessful attempt to clean the grate. Every time I went to remove the ashes, yet more embers would glow orange from the back of the stove, indicating that like my husband, when tasked with creating and lighting a living room fire, had built himself some sort of mini-sun.
Outside on the patio, I heard a scuffle, the noise of a chair being pushed back in haste and my husband calling one of the two dogs to order.
‘Archie,’ he commanded, ‘ARCHIE,’ but in the tone of voice that is reserved for Archie being very naughty, as opposed to just everyday levels of Archie behaviour.
He did not call me, but after the fourth ‘Archie’ in rapid succession, I went outside to see what the fuss was about.
My husband was at the back of the porch, holding Archie by his collar. Archie’s tail was slashing back and forth in his trademark move when he has something smaller than himself cornered.
‘What is it?’ I asked.
‘A bird flew in, knocked itself out on the wall and Archie grabbed it.’
I approached the corner. Lying inches from Archie’s mouth was a bird. It had blue-green feathers on its head and back and a coffee coloured breast. It was lying on its back with its beak wide open, revealing a pink mouth and giving it the appearance of being totally shocked and surprised at finding itself on the ground in this way.
‘Is it dead?’ I asked.
‘No, just stunned, I think,’ replied my husband.
I approached the bird, which did not move, wondering how I should pick it up. It had a very long beak and from my limited knowledge looked to me like a member of the kingfisher family.
Before I could reach down, though the bird decided that it had had quite enough and took off. It flew hard and low across the patio and straight into the fence – SPLAT onto the ground again. Lucy sprang into action.
‘LEAVE IT!’ I commanded, and to her credit, she did. Standing over the bird, she looked at me and decided to obey. The bird was now the right way up, but it was doing the splits and seemed to be still disorientated.
Two magpies landed on the fence above it. They looked like they were up to no good.
I ran towards them and clapped my hands to drive them away as the astonished kingfisher sat like a fat woman in a tutu, unable to get up. My husband was still holding Archie, who was going bonkers. I decided that perhaps the way to go would be to keep the bird protected while giving it enough time to recover, meanwhile my husband got both dogs into the house.
I approached the bird with a laundry basket, intending to cover it as a sort of protection until its head stopped spinning. It had now flown twice headlong into a vertical surface and can’t have been feeling good.
But the bird was having none of it. I hardly got within five feet before it took off again and I heard another crash.
‘Don’t tell me he has hit another wall!’ I said.
‘Nope he is OK,’ said my husband. By some miracle the bird had flown under the patio cover again but this time managed to land on a table and was now the right way up and on his feet.
We had just enough time to see him properly before he decided he was good to go and took off, low and fast, but giving himself just enough room to clear the fence and get away.
I tried to google the bird to find out what it was but am still not sure. At first I had questioned whether you could get members of the kingfisher family in WA, forgetting at first its most famous Australian example, the Kookaburra.
This was not a Kookaburra, but it may have been an Azure Kingfisher even if it would be out of its normal habitat area, or maybe a Sacred Kingfisher. This would seem to be the case for our little visitor – not so much because his plumage matched the description, but because for the three minutes or so that he was in our company, he certainly did seem to live a charmed life.