Saturday, 10 September 2016

The king of fishers

I'm only recently back from a 4 week trip of Canada including some superb grizzly bear watching, which I will post up in the next couple of weeks. Saturday routines need to be continued though, so despite the rain I was down Maple Lodge again early doors. Only Martin and Colin were around and the weather was so poor Martin called off doing any serious work around the reserve straight away!! After a leisurely cup of coffee and a very light bit of moving rubbish around I gave up on any serious activity and decided to go and spend some time in Long Hedge hide. There has been an osprey around recently, but it is also a decent enough place to spend a couple of hours.
On the down I very nearly stepped on what I thought was a slug but on closer inspection turned out to be an elephant hawk-moth larvae!

I found out later that it had been seen earlier in the week as well, and I can only presume the rain must have washed it off the plants as it was in the middle of the path. I helped it to the side to make sure it wasn't flattened later on!!
When I got to Long Hedge, Wendy Marks was already in there (check out but there was no sign of the osprey and the kingfishers were keeping to the far bank.

Still, there was always the very large juvenile grebe  to keep us amused.

After I suppose 30 minutes Wendy gave up with the fateful "I'll try teal hide, I suppose the osprey and kingfisher will turn up here now". Well, the osprey was a no show but the kingfisher sure did turn up, just after Pauline and Judith walked in.
Right below the hide are some twiggy branches left deliberately as perches for it, and I have seen it on them but normally only fleetingly. This time it came in and sat, fished and groomed for what seemed like a long time, but was actually only 8 minutes according to the time stamps on my photos.

Firstly it just sat looking around and checking out the opportunities. Then it had a succession of dives into the lake - probably 8 or 9 times - and came up with food in two occasions. First was a very small crustacea or beetle (I think) which it threw down its throat.

This required a bit of preening to be done after that, which it took really seriously which you can see on this video link.

Then it decided it was still hungry so had another dive and came up with a decent sized fish this time.

 After a bit of light bashing of the fish to stun/ kill it, it manoeuvred it round and let it slide down it's gullet. I don't like the way the fish does still seem to be looking at the kingfisher on the way down though!!!

Slightly bizarrely it then turned round to look up at us as if to say "well, how about that then?" and flew off over to the far bank.

That was the signal for us to leave, a stunning bird giving a great display at almost point blank range. She about the osprey though!!!!