Hello & Welcome!

This is the new home for my online Blog, I'll update and add to it from time to time with posts of interest to me, and hopefully that will interest you also!
This is yet another learning curve to me, so hopefully there will be various improvements as I go along in areas of layout, variety of content, narrative and hopefully photographic imagery - Please revisit and comment as often as you like :)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


As some of you will know, I've long considered the Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis to be my 'bogey bird' the one I could never find, the one which is always there minutes before I arrive at a site, or shows up just after I leave.

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
So when, my alarm went off at 5am I set off on my third trip to this area - the first had resulted in nothing more than a soaking due to heavy rain. The second had at least given me several sightings of blue blurs as the Kingfishers whizzed along the river peeping in alarm as they went, and fingers numb from cold. Third time lucky? Mick had got to the site very early, in order to set up his hide before it bacame daylight and thus disturb any birds as little as possible. I arrived at just after 7am, and managed a fairly undignified scramble into the hide. Then we sat... and waited... and waited..

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:
First shot!
 "There!" one landed right in front of us, a quick zoom in and:

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'.
Although we think there were two birds around - a possible pair, we only managed to get positive views of this female bird, although she did return to the probable nest site deep beneath the roots on the bank in the background of these shots. Was the male on incubation duty? Brood size is normally 5-7 eggs laid in April, but we only got a glimpse of one adult bird with a small fish, surely more fish would be required if there was a brood of chicks? Has the erratic weather delayed breeding? Are they still on eggs?

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 :)



  1. Brilliant! glad you have connected with this species and got some lovely photos!

  2. A good start to your blog Kaz,love the Kingfisher pics!
    Best wishes,
    (Cheshire Birder @ Facebook)


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