Words and picture by Mat Bingham.
Since the start of the New Year I have been watching a pair of Kingfishers on my patch of the River Weaver. The Male and Female who bred last year have managed to survive the winter and have combined their winter territories into one. It is common in breeding pairs not share the same territory in the winter.
Last Saturday I set up my hide before dawn near the centre of their combined territory and stayed until after sunset. Shortly after arriving I could hear a real commotion on the opposite bank. As the sun finally dawned I could see that there were in fact two males fighting for the females attention. The two males were trying to drown each other in the river whilst the female egged them on. They fought until they were utterly exhausted and then they gave up resting on branches eyeing each other wearily. One of the males was quite familiar to me being one half of last years breeding pair but the other bird looked much younger and I hadn’t seen him before. Eventually the younger bird flew off.
Once things settled down the pair started to excavate a nest chamber in the riverbank. The photo shows the female on the left and the male on the right. If you look closely you can still see mud and roots on the males beak from excavating the nest. Kingfishers have been using this bank for years, its covered in Kingfisher nest holes.
I managed to catch up with the Kingfishers again this week. This time they were excavating a nest further along the river. Its probable that they hit an obstruction at the original nest location such as a large rock or tree routes in the riverbank and so gave up, deciding to try further along the river. I did see the young male flying through their territory calling as he went so it looks like he still hasn’t given up either!