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Photographer Leslie Cater
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The Beautiful Kingfisher

Magical world of the Kingfisher 

I had the pleasure of spending nearly three months with a female kingfisher After a friend explained to me that he had seen a kingfisher near a sluice on the river estuary. I decided to make my way there and sat on the grass bank of the river for a while looking for the kingfisher. After about an hour I heard that lovely peeping/squeeking loud sound of a kingfisher flying up the river towards me. On the first fly past it continued over the sluice to the marsh and woods behind the river, only to come straight back and land on the wooden fence of the sluice. That was my first experience of seeing and having one landing quite close to where I was sitting. It stayed for some time fishing in the salt water side of the sluice catching invertebrates, small crabs, shrimps and fish. There is a very large storm drain pipe that carries off the rain water from the village sewer that flows into the estuary through this large pipe. At low tide the kingfisher then catches what ever flows out from this pipe. So in fact the the kingfisher has the best of both worlds, salt and fresh water food. This means when the winter arrives and we get hard frosts, the salt water side never freezes over and that is a big advantage to the survival of the kingfisher.

In these three photos you can see the photo on the left, the Kingfisher has caught a small crab, in the middle a salt water fish and on the right another fish, but a stickle back this time which is a fresh water fish. This little female kingfisher was very adapt in fishing in any water conditions, high or low tide and used her skills very well. The surprising thing is, this female was one of last years offspring, so still quite young but she has learnt fast to fish well, but on one occassion it did have a bad time of it, after five dives and nothing, she would squawk and peep while bouncing up and down on her perch which was lovely to watch even though she had not caught anything.

​In these three photos, you can see some of the perches she used to fish from. Left at low tide a part of a very old groin, centre, the fence around the sluice which was very high up, and right a perch we put in the river bed at low tide. The reason I put the perch in was to give the kingfisher a place to sit and fish at low tide. I had to be careful to make sure it was not placed to low, but high enough for her to fly onto when she came up the river.

One of the most beautiful birds in Britain. I have kept this one for last, this shows how stunning the plumbage of the kinfisher is, and in different light it changes to a deep blue with a glorious metalic blue strip down its back. They say when you see a Kingfisher flying, it is like an electric blue streak as it flies by and that is exactly what it is. After spending nearly three months through the winter with this wonderful little female kingfisher, I had earnt its company without fear of me and it used to sit so close sometimes. I did not bother to photograph the kingfisher but just sat very still watching her at times preening or even on one occassion, fall asleep on the perch. Now that is magical and filled my heart with joy.

2
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Friday, 06 December 2019

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