BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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CLOUGHA PIKE UNTIL RECENT YEARS THE BOWLAND STRONGHOLD FOR THE STONECHAT. PETE WOODRUFF.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Kingfisher.


For many of us the Kingfisher in usually seen as an electric blue streak as it flashes by close to the surface of a stream or river.

Kingfisher. David Cookson.

I've been watching Kingfishers at Conder Green for almost 20 years now, a coastal area on the estuary of the River Lune and can truthfully claim to have observed the bird perched just as many times as in flight. This location is as good as anywhere within our recording area to see the Kingfisher having personally amassed nearly 200 records of the bird over the years.

I noted the following records about 7 years ago now - so for this reason obviously not up to date - and in 2003 I drew up an article which claimed that I had only recorded the Kingfisher at Conder Green during the months between July - November, therefore between this period of about seven months I never saw the bird/s after a given date in November until a date in July the next year and was always intrigued by this, I still wonder where was the Kingfisher during this period covering so many years. 

There are six different races of Kingfisher, the birds we see in Britain - Alcedo atthis - is one of the most northerly members of a mainly tropical family, most of its relatives are confined to remote islands, mainly in the Pacific. In world terms the Kingfisher can be found from Europe eastwards across Asia and southeast Asia to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The species needs clear waters that are rich in small fish prey and this particular aspect of the birds habitat needs makes the Conder Green birds absence over the long period of seven months an even bigger mystery simply because the small River Conder is an all year round ice-free environment. 

Another interesting fact is the mortality rate which is quite high in very harsh winters, but with breeding birds able to rear two broods - sometimes three - each of which having the potential of six young rapid recovery is likely, though such successes are probably not common. More interesting facts are that young birds disperse from their natal territory soon after independence, even as early as July the young can reach remote places like the Isles of Scilly, and records from Cape Clear Island are not unknown. A small number of individuals ringed in Britain in the breeding season have been recovered on the continent, with one exceptional record of an immature bird ringed in Wales and caught on the north coast of Spain just nineteen days later.

The Kingfisher is a highly vulnerable species, its breeding requirements are such that pollution and disturbance are a threat, and this - along with drainage and drought - all pose problems for the birds. Hopefully the day will never dawn when these threats have become so acute that we never again see the delights of the blue electric flash as it flies by on the streams and rivers.

Thanks for the photograph David, though I think he's - it is a male - been on Birds2blog once before.

ONLY 2 DAYS LEFT TO SIGN THE 'SAVE THE TIGER' PETITION LINKED FROM MY LEFT HAND SIDEBAR....PLEASE.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!

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