As I was driving down a narrow road through the woods near a stream, I noticed a belted kingfisher perched in the sun close to the shore. I had my camera in the car and thought “what a great photo.”
When I was as close as I could get and beginning to lift my camera, the kingfisher bolted, flying lickety-split upstream, rattling all the way. Quickly, the plot thickened. It seems I wasn’t the only thing watching the bird because a Cooper’s hawk took off and was swiftly in hot pursuit.
The Accipitor was slightly above the fleeing kingfisher, gaining on it with every wing beat, closing in for the kill. Sensing it was in trouble, the nimble kingfisher did the only thing it could do. It tucked in its wings and dove straight into the stream. SPLASH!
In a split second, the wet bird sprang from the water and headed quickly downstream, the opposite direction it had been going. Coopers hawks are agile; but not that agile. They can't do an about face. Perhaps dismayed by the sudden turn of events, the Cooper’s hawk flew on to hunt elsewhere.
The kingfisher lived on to fish another day. And it all happened between the lub-dup, lub-dup, two beats of my heart.
Life and death. In the blink of an eye.