Monday, September 3, 2012

Kingfisher Saves The Day

 A wind free morning should have brought about a ringing session but a sleepless night followed by lethargy and a lack of motivation meant a few hours after-lunch birding at the usual spot would have to suffice. 

With a high tide due at 1345 I made my way up to Pilling Water, stopping briefly in the car park to watch a Chiffchaff flitting through the trees with a party of Long-tailed Tits. As I left the wood behind there was a single fence-hopping Wheatear and then a Skylark flying across my path and into the field. Skylarks have been very scarce along here since the end of the breeding season, and although it is a species adept at being inconspicuous there just aren’t any around until we receive an influx of migrant and wintering birds. 

Long-tailed Tit


It was a quiet sort of day for counting with a tide that although full, did not reach sufficient heights to fetch birds in, so just 18 Pintail, 25 Shelduck, 9 Cormorant, 140 Wigeon, 75 Teal, 3 Snipe, 300 Curlew, 8 Little Egret, 2 Grey Heron and 1 Raven. 

This is getting to be something of a habit, but there was a Marsh Harrier again today, this one confounding my previous theory of different individuals by appearing from near Fluke Hall then flying rapidly north-east, and last seen high over Cockerham Marsh. Below is a very distant shot of the characteristic “V” shaped flight pattern with Heysham Power Station getting in on the act. 

Marsh Harrier and Heysham

Sometimes, and on a sunny day the incoming tide can make a decent photograph. Don’t worry about the sheep, they can swim and are able to judge the rising tide to perfection, knowing exactly when to seek the safety of higher ground. Heysham Power Station vies for attention again. 

High Tide at Pilling  and distant Heysham

From the stile I watched as hordes of Swallows hawked insects over Broadfleet and Pilling village. I think there had been a hatch of flying ants, an event which probably accounted for the sudden concentration of birds and my count of 300+ Swallows and 20+ House Martins. 

While scrutinizing the Swallows I spotted a Kingfisher sat quietly in a streamside bush. Within seconds the Kingfisher flew across to the outflow fence from where it proceeded to fish in the tidal water. Not daring to move I snapped a number of shots as the Kingfisher dived a number of times before emerging with tiny fish. Each time the Kingfisher would batter the tiny fish against the concrete apron, before twisting them around so as to allow the bird to swallow the fish head first. What appears to be to be some sort of line or string is vegetable matter that the Kingfisher pulled out with the fish.

Sight of a shy Kingfisher makes for a special birding day, more so to watch one fishing rather than the more familiar frustration of a flash of blue disappearing into the watery distance. For the benefit of blog readers from North America who are more accustomed to seeing Belted Kingfishers, our European Kingfisher at about 6 inches, is half the size of the Belted Kingfisher. 









For Kingfisher fans, there are lots of better pictures at an earlier Another Bird Blog post, here.

Today’s post links up with Stewart’s World Bird Wednesday at

More news fron Another Bird Blog pretty soon, stay tuned.


grammie g said...

Hey Phil...ya it's me ...I just did a post on the crappy mood I am in..that's my excuse for not
being by!
I do like your cute shot's of the UK Hummingbird ; } hahaha!! aka as the Kingfisher the fish toss!!
I do love the sheep at sea : }!
That is a great one my Shepardess daughter would love that!
I want to raze you, but it will have to wait, until I am in a better mood ; }!!
Grumpy Grace

Isidro Ortiz said...

Bonitas capturas del Martin pescador,tambien me gusta mucho la del Mito y la de las ovejas.Saludos

Gary Jones said...

Hi Phil, great images of the Kingfisher, and the sheep marooned on the island!!

news said...

Hi Phil; Brilliant shots of the Kingfisher once in a lifetime happening All the best JWB.

eileeninmd said...

Hi Phil, the sheep at the sea shot is amazing. And I just love all your Kingfisher shots. They seem so timid around here. Great birds and post. Have a great week ahead.

TexWisGirl said...

brilliant shots of the kingfisher! love that sheep photo, too!

EG CameraGirl said...

WOW! I love your kingfisher shots!

Carletta said...

Excellent shots of the kingfisher!
I love that sheep shot as well - super reflection.

NewMexiKen said...

That Kingfisher gave you some wondrous views!

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

Nice series of the kingfishers, Phil. They might be common but it's hard to ignore them. Plus it's always challenging to take their photos.

Great shot of the sheep at high tide too! My instant favourite.

HansHB said...

Stunning photos of the Kingfisher. It is Bulls Eye!

Fjällripan said...

Oh you captured the beautiful kingfisher just exellent! Love the shepps in the water to! :)

Findlay Wilde said...

Your kingfisher pictures are absolutely amazing. From Findlay

Anni said...

the kingfisher is so gorgeous!!!!

Wild Bird Wednesday - Backyard Birds

Gary said...

Beautiful Kingfisher shots!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

mick said...

Seeing and photographing a kingfisher like that would make my day! The sheep with the water all around are really different.

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Great shots of the kingfisher in action! I only ever see these from far away.

Adam Jones said...

I could watch the Kingfishre all day. If only it was that easy. Great shots you managed to get.

Stewart M said...

What a splendid little bird they are.

We have a full range of K'fishers here - from the Little Kingfisher (12cm) all the way up to the Kookaburra (47 cm)

But they are remarkable birds what ever the size!

thanks for the linking on WBW

Stewart M

Anonymous said...

He looks so little! I love it when you can capture birds is very cool.

joo said...

Wow, your kingfisher series is awesome! Beautiful little fellow!

joanca bs said...

Amazing shots ¡¡¡¡

Chris said...

I guess it did save the day... You got him pretty well. Well done Phil!


I am green with envey ,i have tryed to sneek up on the kingfisher near me, but fail every time.

Neil said...

That Kingfisher is beautiful and I love the sheep photo.

Choy Wai Mun said...

The kingfisher was certainly in the mood, wasn't he? Great images.

Stuart Price said...

Great Kingfisher pics but my fave is the sheep one!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

I cannot get within a crossing of a 4 lane highway without scaring the local Kingfishers. The images you share are outstanding, brilliant series Phil. Add in those sheep standing on the land surrounded by first glimpse I was concerned, never knew they could swim...always learning. Happy Weekend~

Lessandra said...

Some very pretty pixs of the kingfisher. My husband has two little kingfisher lamps - very pretty and very old. For years I did not know there was actually a bird with these beautiful colors named the kingfisher!

Larry said...

The Kingfisher shots certainly are amazing Phil and I also love that shot of the sheep looking perplexed on the little piece of land out there, I know all too well how difficult it is to get a decent photo of a Kingfisher. Plus, your Kingfisher is so much more colorful than our U.S. versions. The only thing I don't understand is how no one mentioned that tack sharp shot of the Long-tailed Tit!! Maybe they didn't click on it to blow it up and appreciate its beauty. Gorgeous!

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