I took a walk along the riverside on my break today. There have been reports of kingfishers down there but up till now I hadn’t managed to see one. However, today I was in luck and I came across a male kingfisher who looked like he had only just caught a fish. To say the fish was a bit big for him would be an understatement. It took him a while to battle with it and subdue it enough to be able to swallow it. I was very impressed with his ambitious and tenacity.
Eight facts about kingfishers
1. There are 87 different species of kingfisher in the world, but only one, Alcedo atthis, breeds in Europe
2. The largest kingfisher in the world is Australia’s laughing kookaburra. It weighs up to 500gm, or 15 times as much as the European kingfisher.
3. Many of the world’s kingfishers don’t eat fish and rarely go near water. In fact, the kingfisher’s diet also includes many aquatic insects, ranging from dragonfly nymphs to water beetles
4. The brilliant blue of the kingfisher’s back feathers are not the result of pigment, but the result of light striking specially modified layers of feather cells
5. Kingfisher nests are usually located in a riverbank, which they tunnel into for about 1 metre before creating a ball-shaped chamber to lay their eggs.
6. Kingfishers are renowned for the insanitary conditions of their nests, which become littered with droppings, pellets and fish bones. Many young kingfishers die within days of fledging, their first dives leaving them waterlogged so they end up drowning
7. Kingfishers can catch prey up to twice their own weight (as this one did today).
8. The kingfisher is a Schedule 1 species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.