A Flash of Brilliance

May 19, 2017

The river has been a good place to be during these crisp autumn mornings - some days a little mist rises off the water as the sun comes up.

The other day an Azure Kingfisher came barrelling out of the mist and entertained us for a while. It was flitting from one low, overhanging branch to another, right in front of us, so we sat and watched it.

The Boss reckons it had a nest on the downstream bend during the Spring but he never saw what came of it; there don't seem to be any more Azures around than last year so he wonders if a feral cat might have got to the nest. Azures nest by burrowing into the river bank, like the Bee-eater.

These bright little birds hang about all year, whereas the larger Sacred Kingfisher tends to head north in late summer, along with the Dollar Birds, Rainbow Bee-eaters  and Night Herons.

They hunt for shrimp, fish fingerlings and water insects - like their bigger cousins, you'll see them sometimes whacking their prey against the branch to kill it, as a Kookaburra will with a small snake or lizard.

They will take a shallow dive to the water to pick something up, make a splash and retire to a low branch, give themselves a shake and look for something else. They do it all day, bobbing up and down on their perch.

The Boss has a theory that the bobbing is a designed to disturb their prey into action, unlike the herons and egrets that work on stealth and stillness. But The Boss has theories about all sorts of things. The video shows one bobbing anyway.

They don't say much, these birds, just a high-pitched whistle, usually while they are flying. But they're a pretty little thing and brighten up the river on a grey day, like the flame robin does in winter.

I like the outsized beak and the red feet. If I had an outsized mouth I could eat even more than I do. Woof.

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