This enigmatic resident bird grows to around 15cm and can allegedly be seen around the country and throughout the year. They nest in March-April with the first young being seen around April-May. The adults will chase the young away from the nest site as soon after they fledge as possible, to preserve the fish stocks in their territory, and start with another brood - and although 3 broods a year is not unusual - mortality rates in the young are high.
This year started off similarly, following up rumours of Kingfishers at 2 of my local nature reserves proved fruitless. Travelling further afield was likewise without result. Recent rumours of a nest site about 15 miles from home were more promising, coming from someone I have long respected for his environmental awareness, knowledge and understanding of a huge range of wildlife orientated subjects be they flora or fauna. He had introduced me to a photographer friend of his called Mick who had a particular interest in Kingfishers - promising indeed!
The habitat:- a fairly quiet stretch of river, combining a variety of extensive pools with shallow rapids. Extensive overhanging branches supporting steep but fairly loose high banks.
|A stretch of the river with shallow rapids and an ideal kingfisher pool in the centre|
|One of several overhanging trees, recently cut back to maintain the rivers course, possibly a perching site?|
|One of the trees which supports the bank where the Kingfisers allegedly nest, another possible perch site?|
|A fallen tree forming what could be an ideal perch prior to accessing the alleged nest site|
We occasionally heard the distinct 'peep', and scoured the surroundings in the hope of catching a glimpse... to no avail.
|The same stretch of river, and a fishing bird - Unfortunately in this case only a Grey Heron|
After about 2 hours we had just started to wonder if the Kingfishers had moved further upstream, but shortly after we began to get the odd fly-by. For fear of disturbing the birds for too long, we decided to "Give it another hour"... and then:
|A female, distinguishable by the orange lower mandible of the beak|
|She sat for several seconds and we were able to get several shots|
|Such stunning birds, the contrast between the orange and blue plumage is really striking.|
|I am even more impressed by them having finally seen one 'in the flesh'.|
Already I'm thinking towards my 'next shot'... the fledgelings on a branch, the adults together, adults fishing, or with a fish. But for now, I'll settle with the shots I took this morning.
Kingfishers are no longer purely 'mythical' to me ;)
Thanks for reading :)