|Pied kingfisher with prey, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.|
Thursday, 4 August 2011
My first ever blog post. I'm not really sure if there's any sort of etiquette or 'done thing' for blog posts, so I'll just start how I intend to continue-with some stuff that's happening in my life, and a nice story about some birds.
Today I finished the first draft of the second chapter of my PhD thesis. It's about the foraging behaviour of silvereyes in urban trees, and the importance of adaptive opportunistic behaviour in birds (a phrase I made up, and I hope will catch on). Obviously I've been spending a fair bit of time in front of the computer writing, but lucky for me there is a nice bike path at the bottom of the hill which takes me most of the way to uni. The bike path runs along the edge of the harbour, and the ride in and out of school is a great way to relax, and get my daily fix of nature.
Yesterday morning I was biking along, as usual, when I spotted a kingfisher, (Halcyon sancta, kotare), amongst the rocks just above the shoreline. He (or she) flew up and perched on a powerline clutching a crab in its bill, then proceeded to systematically break off all the legs and nippers by bashing it against the wire before sending it down the hatch. This was only the second occasion I've had the opportunity to watch a kingfisher handling prey. The first was a little further from home, in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. I had arrived at a small watering hole where I had seen some fish eagles earlier in the day, and was hoping to snap a few pics in the fantastic african evening light. The fish eagles weren't to be seen, but a pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) was, it flew in and landed on a branch not far away from me, having evidently just captured a small fish. As the New Zealand kingfisher had done with the crab, the African kingfisher, grasping the fish as shown below, proceeded to pound the fish into submission against the branch. This battering continued long after the fish had been stunned. Maybe the kingfisher was tenderising it, maybe it wanted to make sure the fish was well and truly dead and wasn't going to start wriggling around in its gullet. Or maybe (I like to think) it was being obliging and allowing me plenty of time to snap off some nice pics. I hope you enjoy the picture, I have certainly enjoyed my experiences watching some very similar behaviour in two very different locations. It's certainly a good reminder that you don't have to travel to some exotic location to have a memorable wildlife viewing experience and get your bird geek on.
With my chapter finished, I'm off to the pub.
Bird geek out.