Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Common Kingfisher



The Common Kingfisher is found throughout Sri Lanka, although it is scarce at the highest elevations. It is not as common as the White-throated kingfisher but can be found at most village tanks (man made lake). More images and info inside. Click the images on this post to view larger versions.

It is easy to identify this species of Kingfisher due to its small size and overall blue plumage but may be confused with the extremely rare Blue-eared Kingfisher. The Chestnut coloured ear coverts differentiate the common Kingfisher from the Blue-eared Kingfisher. However, it must be noted that the Common Kingfisher can hide its ear coverts when it adopts a hunched pose. The female of the species is identical to the male except the female has an orange-red lower mandible.



The Common Kingfisher is widely distributed throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa. It is a common breeding species across most of its Eurasian range but is a winter visitor to North Africa. It inhabits clear, slow flowing streams and rivers with well vegitated banks. It frequents scrubs and bushes with overhanging branches from which it hunts.



The Common Kingfisher nests in a burrow, excavated by both birds, in a vertical riverbank.  The straight sometimes inclining burrow is usually 60-90 cm long and ends in an enlarged chamber. The nest cavity is unlined but soon collects a litter of fish remains. The Common Kingfisher typically lays five to seven eggs which are incubated by both sexes. Usually one or two eggs from a clutch fail to hatch as the parent can't cover them.



It hunts from a perch around one or two meters above the water with its bill pointing down as it looks for prey. Once prey is detected, it dives to seize the fish below the surface. The wings are open under water and the open eye is protected by a third eyelid. The bird then rises, beak first, and flies back to its perch. The Kingfisher then adjusts the fish in its beak so that it is held near the tail and then proceeds to beat it several times on the perch until the fish is dead. The fish is then swallowed head first.
Source - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Kingfisher



I visited the Thalangama tank on a regular basis during December and January with the aim of capturing a couple of decent images of this bird. I was fortunate enough to identify a perch which was frequented by a Common Kingfisher within the first couple of visits and managed to get a number of shots using the car as a hide. However, I wasn't too happy with these images as they needed to be cropped. I had to get closer to it. On my next visit, I waited until the bird had its back turned to me and got out of the car and moved closer on foot pausing whenever the bird looked in my direction. I managed to get within fifteen feet of the bird and captured the shots above. They have not been cropped. I was using the 100-400mm lens on the 7D.  


Share on Facebook

8 comments:

holdingmoments said...

I really enjoyed this post and pictures Dev. The Kingfisher is a bird I've tried to get decent shots of for about 2 years now, out in the field.
I'll get him one day lol

Dev Wijewardane said...

Thanks Keith. I waited a while to capture these shots as well. Pretty happy with the end result. I think I got around 50 shots before the bird flew off.

Kirigalpoththa said...

Nice!

Chris said...

Hi Dev,
Woooooooooooooooooowwwwww..... I'm speechless.. This is just one of the most beautiful shot of it I've seen!! Like Keith, I've been trying to get one in France during my holidays, but you have to learn their behaviour so much and they are so shy!! Well done mate... I envy you!

Dev Wijewardane said...

Thanks Chris. It took me a few years to capture these shots as well. I was lucky enough to find a perch and a Kingfisher who wasn't too bothered with me being around!

Heather said...

Living a 100 yards from the Charente in France means Kingfisher spotting has become an obsession with me.Unfortunately they are anything but 'Common' here! Your photos are amazing--as are all the others on your blog. Like your previous comments have said--it's all most inspiring.

Dev Wijewardane said...

Thanks for the compliments Heather. They aren't common in Sri Lanka either. The most common kingfisher is the white-throated kingfisher. I'll be publishing a post on them in the near future.

vrajesh said...

nice picture...