Friday, May 21, 2010

Fish on Friday, lunch of Kings

I spent my lunch hour in the far hide at Ferry Meadows (I never remember whether it is the Peake or Prestt hide). I'd heard that there were some showy Kingfishers about so settled to eat my lunch there (trying my best to ignore the stench of stale urine which always pervades the hut).
Almost immediatley I picked up a female Kingfisher in the the willow on the other side of the water; and almost immediately after that it dived down and grabbed a tiddler.
Over the next hour or so I watched this bird catch dozens of fish (its success rate was somewhere above 90%, I estimate).
After a while a male came squeaking along and joined the female in the tree (males have blacker bills, females more orange on the lower mandible). The male also fished, though he was more varied in his perch, using waterside reedmace stems as well as lower willows.
Kingfishers always swallow their fish head first (so as not to get resistance from scales, fins or spines), so I was surprised when the male Kingfisher turned the fish around so its tail was pointing down his gullet. Aha, I thought, so they don't always swallow fish head first. Then he flew directly out over the water, fish still in place and the penny dropped: these Kingfishers have young to feed, and they will be fed fish head first!

No comments: