Saturday, 7 November 2015

Day 358 - Kracking Kingfishers Royally Revisited

6 Days to go!

Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Hey everyone today's Day 358 and before I begin, I would like to thank Jill Warrick Moth Recorder for sending me a lovely 'care package' of Moth information. It'll be very useful!

Today, I was at Fairburn Ings, and as always when I visit I go to the Kingfisher Screen. Now this is generally a great place to see, you guessed it, Kingfishers. I've always thought this to be a bit of a myth but it did ring true with me once when a Kingfisher was sat for ages in full view on a wire across the beck here. Unusually I didn't have the cameras with me. Ug. But today, it was a happy day. My family were there, looking through the screen and my Mum saw a glimpse of blue. And there he was in the distance, with his back to us. We got some pictures and it very obligingly came closer, then closer again! I did cover Kingfishers back on Day 132 but I only had some distant photos. After today's experience I had to take another look at them, I've tried to find different information this time too.

So, here are the facts, revisited:
It started of quite a way off!

  • They are resident around most of the UK except for Northern Scotland and about halfway down the West side of Ireland.
  • I always say that they are quite rare, it's almost true. There are only about 4,000 breeding pairs in the whole of the UK.
  • Because of this and that they are a species of European Concern, they are an Amber List species.
  • They are found basically in places where there is water, but only inland. They favour rivers and ponds.
  • They first breed at one year old and they only live for around 2 years. The oldest one was only 4 years 6 months and 13 days.
Then it cam a bit closer
  • They are only 16cm long and they have a 25cm wingspan. Both Males and Females weigh only 40g.
  • Now, why do they hang around streams and rivers. Well, they are there for food. Specifically, fish and aquatic insects.
  • They also nest in stream banks. Both the male and female will work to make a burrow in sandy soils. They are normally only just wider than the Kingfisher, about 6cm wide, but are 50-60cm deep or long.
  • At the end of the tunnel a little dip is made so eggs don't roll out of the nest but the Kingfishers don't use any nesting material.
And then very close :-)
  • In each clutch they have between 5 and 7 chicks and they have between 1 to 2 broods a year and sometimes have a 3rd.
  • They are quite clever as when they are in the nest they operate a rotation system where each chick gets one piece of food and then it moves to the back of the nest to digest its food letting its siblings get food before it starts again.
  • Still on the subject of food, the brood can demand up to 100 food items every day meaning the parents need to be very good at spotting and catching prey.
  • When I was recording this Kingfisher, I noticed that every time there was a gust of wind and the branches went up and down, he would negate it by bouncing up and down again! Like his own little suspension system!

Here are some links to more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


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