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Having recently received the latest CRT e-mail with a lot of their usual stuff on it, one article caught my eye making me consider what seems to have been missing since we've been out this year, and that is Kingfishers. We have travelled through areas where in the past they have been regularly sighted (myself and OH often joke about the 'daily Kingfisher') but this year? not one. We moored on Tixall Wide for a bit, we've travelled the canal alongside the River Penk, the River Sow, the River Trent and the River Tame (they seem to like areas near rivers usually), all usually good locations to spot Kingfishers but not one to be seen this year. Have we just been unlucky? or have they really been a bit thin on the ground?

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I read or heard somewhere the kingfisher population cycles up and down. Some years there are hardly any and 2 or 3 years later there will be loads around. 

 

This is certainly my experience.

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9 hours ago, MtB said:

I read or heard somewhere the kingfisher population cycles up and down. Some years there are hardly any and 2 or 3 years later there will be loads around. 

 

This is certainly my experience.

Perhaps that is all that it is, it was just when I saw the bit in the CRT e-mail about spotting Kingfishers I realised that I hadn't seen one since we came out about a month ago. I'm usually quite good at spotting them.

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Their typical life span is only two, or three years, which doesn't help with the swings in population they have.

I've found boating in convoy, that if you're in the first boat, you will spot the kingfishers on the move to somewhere they can hide, but those in the second boat are much less likely to see them.

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2 hours ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

Their typical life span is only two, or three years, which doesn't help with the swings in population they have.

I've found boating in convoy, that if you're in the first boat, you will spot the kingfishers on the move to somewhere they can hide, but those in the second boat are much less likely to see them.

Yes, they have a habit of following the lead boat, don't they. I don't think they are looking for somewhere to hide, they seem to be looking out for fish disturbed by the passing boat since they will fly ahead and sit on a branch to wait for the boat to reach them, then fly on another couple of hundred metres and repeat the exercise. We've had one follow us in that fashion for a mile or so before now  (I don't know how big their 'ranges' are).

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26 minutes ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

Yes, they have a habit of following the lead boat, don't they. I don't think they are looking for somewhere to hide, they seem to be looking out for fish disturbed by the passing boat since they will fly ahead and sit on a branch to wait for the boat to reach them, then fly on another couple of hundred metres and repeat the exercise. We've had one follow us in that fashion for a mile or so before now  (I don't know how big their 'ranges' are).

I've noticed a similar thing with cormorants on deeper canals. They'll dive as the boat approaches, then surface a good while later behind. Have wondered if they use the engine and prop noise to mask their swimming, so they can sneak up on fish. Never seen one catch anything though!

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52 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

I've noticed a similar thing with cormorants on deeper canals. They'll dive as the boat approaches, then surface a good while later behind. Have wondered if they use the engine and prop noise to mask their swimming, so they can sneak up on fish. Never seen one catch anything though!

Cormorants are great. On the River Lee I’ve had them following me for a mile or more easily. 
I have seen one catch something when for a moment it’s neck’s a little wider. 
But I’ve never seen a heron catch owt 🤷‍♀️

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1 hour ago, beerbeerbeerbeerbeer said:


But I’ve never seen a heron catch owt 🤷‍♀️

 

That probably explains why they always look so thin... :)

 

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1 hour ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

I have! Seen a kingfisher successfully catch a fish too.

I watched a kingfisher catch a fish, then it sat on a branch smashing the fish against the branch for a few moments before swallowing it.

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2 hours ago, beerbeerbeerbeerbeer said:

Cormorants are great. On the River Lee I’ve had them following me for a mile or more easily. 
I have seen one catch something when for a moment it’s neck’s a little wider. 
But I’ve never seen a heron catch owt 🤷‍♀️

Yes, I've seen successful herons (you'd be amazed at how big a thing they can swallow), OH has even seen a heron swallowing a rat!

1 hour ago, Rob-M said:

I watched a kingfisher catch a fish, then it sat on a branch smashing the fish against the branch for a few moments before swallowing it.

he was obviously just battering it;)

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I've seen loads of kingfishers on the Thames this spring. Dozens and at one time there were several of them presumably involved in a spot of light intraspecific competition or a territorial dispute. Quite a lot of agro between two of them a bit like when the coots start fighting. 

13 hours ago, beerbeerbeerbeerbeer said:


But I’ve never seen a heron catch owt 🤷‍♀️

I saw a heron consuming quite a large duckling. The legs went in last and I remember them sticking out the side of the beak still frantically flapping around while the swallowing process was initiated. 

 

Also once saw a cormorant with a large eel. Took quite a while to get it under control. Looked like the fish was going to win then the bird threw it up in the air, eel went straight and dropped right into the bird's wide open beak. Byebye. Brilliant bit of work. 

 

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, beerbeerbeerbeerbeer said:

Coots are my favourite. 

Lots of character. 
And for smallish birds are pretty hard, they’ll keep the gulls away when they got young ones. 

I ought to have said moor hens too

Does any one else think that evolution sort of gave up with coots and moorhens? Aquatic birds, but they haven't even bothered with webbed feet. Can run on land, but not that fast. They seem to hold their own with the other water fowl. Plus their babies are cute beyond words. Basically little balls of fluff. 😀

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14 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

Does any one else think that evolution sort of gave up with coots and moorhens? Aquatic birds, but they haven't even bothered with webbed feet. Can run on land, but not that fast. They seem to hold their own with the other water fowl. Plus their babies are cute beyond words. Basically little balls of fluff. 😀

Yup, they can sort of fly, they can sort of swim, they sort of build a sort of nest

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Like most wildlife, the population will match the availability of prey, and last year being erratic weather wise I don't recall seeing so many small fry on the canal. There have been noticeably less bats too, for the same reason I presume. 

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41 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

Does any one else think that evolution sort of gave up with coots and moorhens? Aquatic birds, but they haven't even bothered with webbed feet. Can run on land, but not that fast. They seem to hold their own with the other water fowl. Plus their babies are cute beyond words. Basically little balls of fluff. 😀

 

I always think the natural habitat for baby moorhens should be on the end of ladies slippers and on the top of bobble hats... :)

 

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31 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

They can do lots of things, but none of them well.

They do looking aggressive quite well with that sharp beak. If they knew about it they could use that to cause severe injury. 

7 minutes ago, cuthound said:

 

I always think the natural habitat for baby moorhens should be on the end of ladies slippers and on the top of bobble hats... :)

 

Grebes are afraid of people due to previous hunting for the feathers to decorate hats. 

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6 hours ago, magnetman said:

They do looking aggressive quite well with that sharp beak. If they knew about it they could use that to cause severe injury. 

Grebes are afraid of people due to previous hunting for the feathers to decorate hats. 

I think grebes are brilliant, but I'm not sure how you'd go about hunting one. Not seen very many on the canals, but on excursions onto the Norfolk Broads they were everywhere (I hope they still are). You'd see one dive nearby and then look around to see where it has gone and it surfaces what seems like a couple of hundred yards away (probably isn't) and you are left wondering,"How the F*** did he get right over there?":huh:

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