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Where is the best place in the south for me to see a king fisher and get a close view of it?

Sent in by Heidi Freeman, Hampshire

With their bright blue and orange plumage, kingfishers are possibly the most distinctive birds found in the UK.

They are found by rivers, lakes, ponds across much of the UK, and also on estuaries and coastal areas during the winter.

Getting close views of them, however, is not easy as they are very shy birds. They are also specially protected from disturbance under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, so it is important to steer well clear of their nesting sites at all times. The best way to watch them is to find a likely spot where they go fishing.

It is quite possible that local waterways to you have resident kingfishers. I would recommend investigating your local streams, ponds and rivers, paying particular attention to bends and overgrown corners as these are ideal hunting locations. Look out for overhanging branches that kingfishers could use to launch their attacks. If you can see fish coming to the surface even better.

Once you have found a possible location where you can sit in relative comfort with a clear view of the perch, it is a case of sitting still, being patient and hoping one comes along. Its best to wear plain, dark clothes and take nothing with you that rustles in order to prevent disturbing the bird, if you are lucky enough to see one.

We have a number of wetland reserves in the south where kingfishers are regular visitors. Rye Meads in Hertfordshire has created artificial sand banks to encourage this special bird to nest. The reserve also has hides where you can watch without any worries about disturbing them. Radipole Lake, Weymouth, Dorset and Fowlmere in Cambridgeshire, also offer exciting opportunities to observe the Kingfisher. Pulborough Brooks has four hides and three viewpoints which gives visitors a great opportunity of observing many species of bird.

Elsewhere across the UK, Kingfishers can be spotted regularly at Leighton Moss, Lancashire, Ynys Hir, Ceredigion and Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire.

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