It Started With a Fish (Maybe)?

The male kingfisher is definitely in the mood for love at the moment. He’s been cleaning out last years nest hole in preparation for a new breeding season. There is a female about and she has visited the hole to check out his handy-work, however she seems to be playing hard to get at the moment.

When kingfishers pair up they seal the deal with the fish pass, where the male offers the female a fish he’s caught. I’ve witnessed this in the past but always at a distance so yesterday when the male sat on a perch with fish ready I was hoping to get some nice shots of the pass happening.

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If the fish is being held tail first with the head furthest from the beak, then the fish is for someone else, either the female as in this case or for the chicks when they have arrived. He sat on this perch for a good ten minutes waiting for his potential mate and seemed a little perturbed when an unexpected blind date arrived!

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I don’t think this robin was what he was expecting at all!

He was very busy looking up and down the river for the female and when she did finally turn up she just flew straight past upstream.

Today he was back again and this time he seemed to have caught a bigger fish to try and impress her and show off his skills as a potential provider for her and their offspring.

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But again she was a no show, and he flew from perch to perch upstream hoping she’d arrive and take his catch. Fingers crossed she falls for his charm soon!

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New King On The Block

On Saturday I found a new kingfisher location. I’d been there the week before photographing a heron grabbing some lunch and I thought it had the potential to be a good place for kingfishers.

_JM19383 The heron wasn’t about and as I stood watching a couple of male teal a kingfisher flew up from a small tree on the side of the pond. It whizzed off and after some mild swearing I was happy to see it return to another tree on the other side.

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He hung around for a few minutes and then disappeared toward the river. I decided to have a wander round the pond and it soon became apparent that there weren’t any perches low down. So I gathered up a few branches and started spacing them out around the pond to give him some fishing perches.

Today I went back and after a few minutes I spotted him at the far end of the pond sat on one of the perches I’d put out. And not only that he had a fish in his beak!

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It’s always rewarding to see them using these branches, I just need to get the right side for the best pictures.

 

Lesser Redpoll

A first proper trip out with the new lens this weekend and I thought I’d go to the local nature reserve just to get a feel for it and see what it could do. All the usual suspects were on show but there was one star, a lesser redpoll.

The reserve has been well known in the past as a good place to see these birds in the winter months but recently they have been a rarer sight so it was great to have one close up. There was only one but they generally are seen in small flocks at this time of year.

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Lesser Redpolls have tiny beaks that are adept at handling fine seeds so if you want them to visit your garden a niger seed feeder is a good place to start, although this one was enjoying the sunflower hearts.

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Lesser Redpolls have a red forehead (from which the name ‘red-poll’ is derived). The first time I ever saw one I thought it was a sparrow with a bloody head!! During the breeding season, a peachy-red colour extends down the throat and neck of males, and to a lesser extent in females. Both sexes have black streaking on their backs and have a small black ‘goatee beard’. The pink flush on this one suggests its a male heading toward the breeding season.

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There are three types of redpoll, Common or Mealy, Lesser and Arctic with the Common and Arctic being quite rare in the UK.

Lesser Redpolls are a sociable bird and a few pairs will often nest close together in a small colony. They nest in trees generally a young conifer which provides plenty of cover and the nest is an untidy cup of twigs, grass, and plant stems. It will then add a soft lining plant material, feathers and hair. They usually have two broods a year of between four and five eggs. The female incubates the eggs alone, but both parents feed the young.

Outside of the breeding season they form larger flocks which often include other birds such as Siskins. They are however currently a red list bird so if you live close to a wood don’t forget to put out some niger seeds or sunflower seeds and you may start to have some new visitors dropping in.

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