In days gone by, there used to be an unpleasant custom that involved people killing kingfishers and hanging their bodies on a string outside a house. Due to the lack of food during harsh winters, kingfishers can suffer severe mortality and population crashes. However, they can recover quickly as they have up to three broods per season and up to six chicks per brood.
They are still listed as an Amber species due to their status across Europe. Kingfishers are usually seen as a flash of blue in flight. If you are lucky enough to see one perching you will notice the orange-red plumage underneath and their dark, dagger-like bill. Females and males can cautiously be told apart, as females have a reddish base to their lower mandible. To spot kingfishers, patience and planning are key. They are actually widespread and fairly common in Britain, though scarcer in Scotland. But despite this, they can often be elusive birds. Going for a stroll by the water is not the best strategy for a kingfisher sighting.
Instead it is a good idea to wait in a hide or among bankside vegetation. At some nature reserves you can even see these lovely birds from the windows of the main visitor centre. Listen out for this high-pitched piping — and quickly scan in all directions if you hear it. Birds often call in alarm or as they are flying past, low over the water. Kingfishers love clear, still or slow-moving water with reeds or bulrushes in the shallows. They also love to perch in overhanging willows or alders on the banks, where they preen their plumage or dive for fish. They are often spotted where drainage ditches, culverts or streams join a larger waterway.
Many British rivers, canals, streams, lakes and gravel pits have kingfishers, even in urban areas.
Review: Kingfishers in the frame
Here we have picked 10 of the best nature reserves for a sighting — but plenty of other wetland reserves have kingfishers too. Kingfishers are a vulnerable species due to their low breeding number and habitat loss. Consequently they are protected by law, and afforded Schedule 1 status under the Wildlife and Countryside Act This means an official licence is required to photograph them at or near the nest where there is a risk of disturbance. For details of how to apply, contact Natural England www.
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An urban oasis for wildlife and people, the London Wetland is located in Barnes, southwest London. RHS Wisley , Surrey. Located south of London in Surrey, Wisley is one of four gardens run by the the Royal Horticultural Society and full of inspirational areas, such as Seven Acres pictured above , Oakwood, and Mixed Borders. Bridges are excellent viewpoints from which to scan large areas of river for local birds.
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This makes it easy to spot their feeding places from the riverbank. Scout out areas where the water is moving slowly — perhaps on the inside of a river bend, by a fallen tree or behind a rock — all places where fish gather. Kingfishers stay on their breeding sites all year they do migrate to the coast in harsh weather, but the shift to milder winters is making such movements less frequent. As a result, the species can usually be filmed in the same territory in every season. Your chances of success are highest in spring and summer when adults have young.
It will usually bring fish back to the perch, quickly stunning them before swallowing its meal whole.
Tread softly and move slowly when you look for a place to set up your camera, so as not to disturb the fish. Crouch down and stay still for a while — any wary minnows will probably return to their favourite stretch of water. You can make life much easier for them by providing perches. The birds should become frequent visitors to these posts once they know where to find them. Kingfishers are surprisingly confiding birds and have been known to perch on fishing rods when anglers are only a few metres away, so you can afford to set up your equipment near to the makeshift perch.
You may well be there for several hours, so make yourself nice and comfortable.
When you need to move your hands, to focus the lens for instance, do it slowly. It may take a while for a kingfisher to get used to the perch, but the footage you get when it does will be well worth the wait. If your chosen location produces no results, try again on a different stretch of riverbank. Home Animal Facts Kingfisher Guide: facts about kingfishers, best places to see, and how to film these colourful birds. Kingfisher Guide: facts about kingfishers, best places to see, and how to film these colourful birds Our guide to the common kingfisher, plus expert advice on where to see them and how to film them.
Additional information added by Avianweb. These tiny Kingfishers have seven recognized subspecies.
These subspecies claim a wide distribution across Europe, Asia and North Africa. The nominate race - A. They are also found in the Western Cape of South Africa. In most of its European range, this is the only kingfisher. They remain primarily in their range, but will migrate to more temperate climates by coastal waters in the winter. Especially when inland waters are icebound, they may move to tidal marshes and the shore. They will seek food sources in estuaries or harbors along rocky seashores.
In areas with warmer temperatures, the Common Kingfishers inhabit clear, slow-flowing streams, rivers, mangrove creeks, swamps and lakes which are surrounded by copious amounts of vegetation. They are often seen perching in tree branches that hang over the shallow water and often hunt from nearby bushes.
The Common Kingfishers prefer to inhabit a temperate climate and will migrate after breeding season to more favorable conditions as cold weather approaches. They are frequently seen beside lakes, ponds, canals or dykes and streams, foraging for food.
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- Common kingfisher.
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Its features are typical of most Kingfishers : a short tail, large head in profile, and a long, sturdy bill. The upper parts of the adult bird is mostly bright metallic blue, including the head.
The back is cobalt and one can see greenish reflections on the head and wings. The plumage below is orange.
Kingfisher - Wikipedia
The ear coverts feathers covering the ears and under parts are warm chestnut, the chin and sides of neck white. The bill is blackish and reddish orange at the base. The legs are bright red with a dark blue stripe. The rufus ear patches distinguish it from nearly all of the other subspecies. This Kingfisher has regular perches or stands from which it fishes. It sits upright, its tail pointed downwards, suddenly dropping with a splash and usually returning at once with a its prey. The flight of the Kingfisher is rapid;, the short rounded wings whirring until they appear a mere blur.
It is usually seen flying near the water, but during courtship the male chases the female through and over the trees with loud shrill whistles. The short, round wings create a whirring sound as it flies, and one can glimpse a flash of shiny blue down its back as he speeds away. Common Kingfishers are beneficial members of ecosystems since they are expert indicators of freshwater community health. Clear, clean water provides trees and shrubs on banks for perching and following prey; the habitats possessing the highest quality water sources also permit the most favorable visibility and will attract the greatest number of breeding birds.
The presence of the Kingfishers in these habitats confirms the quality of the water. From February onward the male has a trilling song, a modulated repetition of many whistles. He also signals with a whistle to the female when he is feeding her, this being his share of the nesting duties. This whistle is produced even when his bill is loaded with food, yet is clear and distinct.
The female will reply and emerge from the nesting hole, and may fly to meet him, take the fish from him in the air, and return to the nest.
Its diet consists of fish, aquatic insects and crustaceans, including freshwater shrimps. The Common Kingfisher dives for fish, its main food, and similar to many other species of Kingfisher , it too has developed the visual adaptations necessary to spot its prey under water. When a Common Kingfisher dives after a meal, it will plunge into the water, creating a V shape with its wings folded backwards, and often it will be completely submerged.