The Kings Fisher

2012_02_08 PO - Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) 01
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

They think that the etymology, or origin, of the kingfishers name comes from the old Norse Kungsfiskare and then put onto modern use by the Normans. An interesting observation on the origin of their name also comes from some tombs in Fontevraud, France where Henry II and Richard I, the Lionheart, are buried. Their tombs are painted in the same colours as the kingfisher with Blue upper garments and orange lower/undergarments. Here´s a link to an interesting article on the subject.

Kingfishers have to be one of the more beautifully coloured birds in Europe, indeed their foreign cousins are no less beautifully plumaged. The Europeans in their bright blue/green iridescent plumage and orange breast would make one think that they are easily seen along the bank of a river or pond. Amazingly though, this is not true and they can be quite difficult to spot. Similarly the bright yellow gold of the Golden Oriole in a tree is difficult to spot. You have to wonder how come sometimes the most outrageous colours can be the best camouflage. Generally I find the first I notice of their presence is their sharp metallic whistle as they come flying down past you. Once heard, you have to look out for the fast-moving, bright flash of electric blue flying past. Other times I find they turn up unannounced and you notice that one has landed on a branch quite close to you. Any sudden movement on your behalf though and they are off. But just sit tight, have a cup of coffee and they will probably be back after fifteen minutes having done the rounds of their other perches. There is no time to waste, this wee bird of 34-46 grammes has to eat up to 60% of its body weight a day!

Once you do find a branch where they perch, it is simply a waiting game until one turns up. I took the advice of a contact on Flickr once to put a stick in the water next to the edge of the river and almost within minutes a kingfisher made use of it, as in the following shot.

2011_06_17 AL - Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) 06
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

I just hope now that the weather doesn´t get any colder since they do have a high mortality rate, which they try to offset by having two, or sometimes three, broods of five to seven eggs each. They really are little gems. 

Watch Kingfishers up close with Oretani Wildlife.

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