Kingfishers may not be the first bird you think of when visiting Nagshead, but at certain times of year, they can be quite regular on the reserve ponds. It is always intriguing to see one flash past in a blue blur at waist height through mature woodland, commuting between water bodies. Late summer into early autumn is usually the time to see them on the reserve, presumably due to post breeding dispersal. Occasionally they appear at other times of year after prolonged heavy rain, which results in the local streams flooding and becoming unfishable. Heavy rain last week followed by a cold snap meant that Lower Hide was an excellent spot to see this charismatic species. The streams had become a raging torrent of muddy water and most of the local ponds had frozen over. As mature trees shelter the ponds at Lower Hide, they rarely freeze over completely and can provide a vital food supply in tough times. There are no fish in the ponds, but they contain an abundance of other pond life that a hungry Kingfisher will happily take. The following footage of a female Kingfisher (note the red lower mandible, black on males) bathing and preening between fishing sessions was taken from Lower Hide last week.
The first substantial snow of the winter fell overnight at Nagshead last week, followed by a wonderful crisp blue-sky day. The reserves always look fantastic with a covering of snow, especially with the low winter sun streaming through the trees. The excitement was short lived however, as the snow had all but disappeared by late afternoon.
RSPB Nagshead in snow (Photo: Lewis Thomson)