The kingfisher at Prior Park
With its sapphire body and fiery orange chest, Kingfishers are undoubtedly one of the most colourful birds in Britain. These small birds are very vulnerable to harsh winters. Prior Park has the perfect conditions for Kingfishers to thrive during the colder season. The lakes are abundant in minnows and sticklebacks which will sustain a hungry kingfisher and the muddy banks provide space to build nests.
Kingfishers often make their home in the garden, and the first sightings this year were back in February.. She was sat on the stone apron of the lower lake, looking out over the cool clear water. In a flurry of wingbeats and colour, she dived into the lake and emerged with a small minnow in her bill. She beat the fish against a rock until it was unconscious and then gulped it down head first.
How do we know she was a she? Female Kingfishers have a lower orange mandible (beak) whereas male mandibles are all black. As the days lengthened and spring finally arrived in April, the Kingfisher vanished. Although Prior Park is an ideal over-winter nesting spot, it does not have the right breeding conditions and so she flew off in search of a mate.
As the autumn chill creeps back into the air, two colourful Kingfishers have been spotted flying over the lower lake. It is suspected that the Kingfisher has returned with her youngster to spend the winter in the garden.
Kingfishers are small and shy birds, easily startled by human presence. However, thanks to the expertise of Visitor Welcome Assistant Glen, who knows all the best bird watching spots, visitors have been afforded wonderful glimpses of the Kingfishers.
Why not see if you can spot a Kingfisher for yourself? We would love to see any of your photos on social media.