November - Warrens

The week of the 'Super Moon' ...

It's the week of the Super Moon so I thought I would include a picture of it taken from my garden, as life on the stream at the moment ... well, it's a little quiet. It's mid Autumn and there isn't much happening, it's typical and expected.

I have added some images below that I have collected from the last week of visiting the stream. 

November 12th 2016.

Winging it ...

It's a beautiful Autumn day, the sun is bright but low in the sky and the clouds are light and wispy, it is cold ... but who cares?

It's 9.00AM and the Kingfisher is busy patrolling his territory, he has passed me twice as I walk to the hide, the very familiar blur of electric blue shimmering as it's skimming the waters surface .

The colours that fill the cameras viewfinder are wonderful, it has to be the best time of year with such diverse colours on the banks of the stream. These colours that are forever changing as the sun appears from behind the wispy clouds.

The Kingfisher is here and is focusing on the stream below, waiting patiently, completely still except for the odd dip of his head.

The aptly named King of the fishers is making use of the light and the clear water conditions,  plucking fish from the stream with great regularity. 

Then the calmness is disrupted, another male comes hurtling down stream, buzzing past our male as if in a scene from Top Gun. Our resident male instantly reacts, flaring his wings and stretching his body forward, beak open as he issues a warning.

Fiercely territorial, the resident male will not let another Kingfisher onto his patch, it is to be defended. The male stands upright, making himself tall and skinny, still issuing a warning call, the intruder is down stream, just out of sight of the camera.

The male takes off to chase him away. This can easily end up in a fight where damage can be done to each other, but this time its avoided and the intruder is chased off his patch.

The Kingfisher returns, the Autumn sun continues to shine and tranquillity is resumed once again.

It would be great to have the interaction of a female over the winter months but it's been a while since I have seen one here on my patch. I know there are more established pairs a couple of miles down stream in the next village, so I am still hoping that we will still have time this year to have a female introduced. 

I spend the next hour watching the Kingfisher hunting, picking out sticklebacks and minnows from the stream and flipping them in the air like a juggler.

The sticklebacks spines can be problematic for the bird if they are not suitably killed prior to eating. I have seen them being regurgitated often as they become lodged in the kingfishers throat when trying to digest .

The kingfisher twisting and turning to get as much power into stunning it's prey ...

Eventually the fish is suitably stunned and can be swallowed head first.

The clouds start mounting up and the wind picks up also and it makes for a cold afternoon now. I wait for the Kingfisher to depart before packing up myself.

Phenomenal Autumnal Colour ...

North wind doth blow, and that North wind is freezing this morning. The sky is grey and the clouds heavy, but the forecast is for the sun to shine mid morning. I am in the hide for 9.00 AM. I had spotted the male perched down stream on a reed over hanging the stream, his bright plumage against the now drab beige reeds making him vey visible.

Within 10 minutes the kingfisher arrives upstream to the hide to fish, the wind is strong and I can see him struggling for position on his perch as he is buffeted from the cold wind.

Its not long before the Kingfisher spots his first target, he waits for the breeze to reduce and then takes his opportunity to strike.

It's only a split second before he returns back into the cameras viewfinder with a sizeable minnow in his beak. The fish is quickly stunned with a few nonchalant strikes on his perch and swallowed head first down his gullet.

Instantly he resumes hunting and within a minute he is missing again from the viewfinder of the camera as I hear him hit the waters surface below me.

He returns again successful, holding his reward up to the camera as if to brag. This time however, he prepares the fish head first, and starts calling. This is to signify a female maybe in the area, he would then pass the fish to the female as part of a bonding ritual, although this usually happens in the Spring. 

Unfortunately no female arrives and he stops calling, he eats the fish for himself.

Below is a picture I took in the Spring of the male feeding the female in a courtship ritual. 

The buzzard is screeching high above the stream which is making the Kingfisher nervous. The bird cranes his head at 180 degrees like something from The Exorcist and follows the buzzard as it circles above. 

The Kingfisher decides that the best thing is to move for cover, and takes off into a nearby tree.

It's a full 30 minutes before he returns. The forecast is correct, the sun appears at mid-day and lights up the stream to reveal the beauty of the autumnal colours on the stream. The kingfisher looking amazing as it sits on his perch, as if also soaking up the little warmth from the sun.

I watch the Kingfisher for another hour as it continues to fish, before it finally departs upstream and out of sight. I take this opportunity to leave and return to the warmth of my car.

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