Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Kelham Kingfisher

I’ve not done much birding locally over the last few weeks, for one reason and another, so I got out when I had the chance for an hour last night.

It was grey and overcast, but dry and very still, so I had a stroll around Kelham Bridge. There were plenty of Sedge and Reed Warblers (although the Grasshopper Warbler that was there a month or so ago couldn’t be heard), a Whitethroat or two, and, from the second hide, a Kingfisher perched on one of the posts in the water.

I was very close, but it didn’t startle even at the considerable noise made opening the shutters, and stayed there for around 15 minutes, diving three or four times. Each time, it came up with a small fish, and did its familiar ritual of battering it against the perch to make sure it was dead.

What’s really interesting, though, is how Kingfishers can change appearance dramatically in an instant. When I first spotted it, for example, I could only see the orangey breast and the white cheek patch. Then, as it turned round, the blue plumage became visible, but it appeared dull, unremarkable almost, certainly nothing like the electric flash of colour you usually get when you see one dashing along a riverbank. It was only when it finally flew away that the blue seemed to kindle and spark.

On the way home, I finally caught up with my local Little Owls (they’ve been very elusive this year) down a lane about a mile from my house. They’ve been nesting in the same tree for years and years – I can remember seeing them there when I was about 9 or 10. Judging by the amount of noise they were making, they’re raising a brood, too, so I daresay they’ll be there for years to come.

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