Rendezvous with a Kingfisher

Before you start getting any ideas, let me clarify….., the KingFisher, in topic here, is not of the ‘Vijay Mallya’ variety, but a beautiful little bird, more commonly known as the ‘Common Kingfisher’. In my opinion, it indeed, is not that common, more common, would be the species, called, the White-throated Kingfisher. Anyways, the name stays….

A bit more about the bird, (src: Wikipedia) ,

The Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) also known as Eurasian Kingfisher or River Kingfisher, is a small kingfisher with seven subspecies recognized within its wide distribution across Eurasia and North Africa. It is resident in much of its range, but migrates from areas where rivers freeze in winter.

This sparrow-sized bird has the typical short-tailed, large-headed kingfisher profile; it has blue upper parts, orange underparts and a long bill. It feeds mainly on fish, caught by diving, and has special visual adaptions to enable it to see prey under water. The glossy white eggs are laid in a nest at the end of a burrow in a riverbank.

Common Kingfisher Common Kingfisher

On my recent visit to Thattekad, the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, near Cochin, in Kerala, got an opportunity to spend some good amount of time with this little beauty, at relatively close quarters. Despite the fact that the bird is supposedly quite common, I , haven’t really been able to get this much time with the bird and that too at such close range….., I just couldn’t let go of the opportunity……..

After noticing the bird, perched, on a low hanging branch, close to the river bank, I tried approaching it slowly, trying to seat myself down on the embankment,  just a few meters away from it…, It did notice my presence and gave a quizzical look, as though, saying, what do  you want..!…., but, somehow, didn’t seem to mind and went back to its business…..

Common Kingfisher Quizzical Look….

Having, seated myself there, I started observing the activities of this little beauty….. It was mid-day, and this guy was on the look-out for a meal……

He was perched, on a branch, very close to the embankment, but, well within the shade of the other overhanging branches. He had found himself a nice, cool location, to sit and look out for his meal…. But the only catch was that, this location, being just below the embankment, was very close to a path-way inside the sanctuary, which was used by lot of people, going in and out of the sanctuary. Visitors and people, working or living in the sanctuary, were constantly moving up and down this path, causing, a lot of noise and commotion.

However, our guy, wasn’t really concerned. He was a bit wary, and once in a while, would look up to make sure that things were fine and would get back to the task at hand.

Common Kingfisher

A look up, once a while, to make sure things are fine….

Amazing focus,persistence and determination, these guys have, they just sit there looking down at the water, for a long time, working out the right moment for them to be able to catch a meal ( obviously a fish ), and at the same time being wary of their surroundings.. The piercing focus in their eyes is amazing to see…..

Common Kingfisher The Focus

He just doesn’t sit in one place, looking in one direction. He is able to cover a certain circular or elliptical area of the water around his perch, that again is variable, as he moves around on the perched branch, from one corner to the other. Was lovely to watch him move across and turn around,with his tiny little legs.. Was giving some lovely poses, while moving around……

Common Kingfisher

A Pose…

I really wanted to see this guy fish….. Sat there watching the antics of this little guy and didn’t realize that I had been there for more than an hour and still there were no signs of this guy going fishing…. Ants and other insects were starting to crawl up me and impatience was growing on me…, but this guy was cool as ever, looking down at the water as if the fish is going to jump out and into his beak…. Really, how amazingly tenacious, these little guys are……, how much of hard work and persistence, it takes for these guys, to earn a meal, which we, so casually, take for granted……

Another 20 min went by, my legs started to cramp out, I started thinking of calling it quits, to try, may be the next day or something, when the moment finally came……! , In one swoop, this little one went diving into the water and came out with a catch, a small fish, in its beak…., everything happened so fast…..

He came back to the perched branch, shook the water off a bit and swallowed the well-earned meal….., was just in time for me to get a couple of shots….

Was a first timer for me and was very happy and excited, was well worth the wait……

Common Kingfisher with catch With the catch…

Common Kingfisher with catch With the catch - II

After swallowing the meal, the little guy, shrugged off the water from his feathers and adjusted his big pointy beak, getting ready for another catch……

Common-Kingfisher-splash-01 Splash - I

Common Kingfisher-splash-02 Splash - II

Common Kingfisher Adjusting the big pointy beak….

Common Kingfisher Back in business…

Waited there for another 15 min, hoping he might go in for another catch,  but it wasn’t to be..  One group of visitors to the sanctuary, on seeing me sitting there, out of curiosity, came close to inspect and got too close to our guy…, also, shouting in Malayalam, E Pakshi Kando, E Pakshi Kando, hey, you guys saw this bird here…!!!…..

That was it, our guy had, had it, gave one look up at those people and flew off………

Common Kingfisher A final look up…..

Anyways, was very happy, having spent so much time with this little beauty and seeing it fishing…. How I wish, I could spend this much time with all the birds, would be amazing….., I know, that is a lot to wish for…..

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