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Year of the Kingfisher

Posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2007 at 7:34 pm CET

We saw seven different species of Kingfisher this year, 2007, in The Netherlands (‘IJsvogel’), Egypt and The Gambia! We saw most on our trip to The Gambia in January, and most of these were Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis). These black-and-white birds are very approachable. They hunt by hovering over the water and then diving down bill first directly below to catch a fish. We found this one somewhere between the towns of Tendaba and Georgetown:

Pied Kingfisher / Ceryle rudis

On 14 January at Abuko Nature Reserve in The Gambia we saw this extremely cute African Pygmy-Kingfisher (Ispidina picta) below. These tiny birds are only 12 to 13 cm long. It was toward our end of the holiday in The Gambia and we were really lucky to see this one up close from a small observatory in the park:

African Pygmy-Kingfisher / Ispidina picta

On the exact location later that day we saw this giant Giant Kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima) which can get up to 48 cm long. I had wanted to see one of these all week and this was a real treat:

Giant Kingfisher / Megaceryle maxima

Other species we saw in The Gambia were the Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedo cristata), of which we saw quite a few on boat rides around Tendaba:

Malachite Kingfisher / Alcedo cristata

… Blue-breasted Kingfishers (Halcyon malimbica), which we also saw around Tendaba:

Blue-breasted Kingfisher / Halcyon malimbica

… and one Striped Kingfisher (Halcyon chelicuti) of which we only have this blurry picture (better picture here). These live in dry brush, so not much fishing for these guys:

Striped Kingfisher / Halcyon chelicuti

But it wasn’t just in The Gambia that we saw Kingfishers this year, we also saw two in The Netherlands for the first time:

Common Kingfisher in Holland

We saw these Common Kingfishers (Alcedo atthis) from a hide in Oostvaarderplassen in Flevoland, where they were just 10 meters away and stayed for about 15 minutes, hunting for fish and flying from one branch to another. Here’s a great picture of it’s bright blue feathers:

Common Kingfisher in Holland

Then when we were in Egypt for a diving trip in October, we saw several more Common Kingfishers at Ras Mohamed National Park:

Common Kingfisher in Egypt

And one final picture on the same one in Ras Mohamed:

Common Kingfisher in Egypt


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