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The Blue Flash

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They're probably the UK's most exotic looking bird, and most people are familiar with their dazzling blue plumage from having seen them in books on TV or the web.  Yet very few people have ever had a good, close look at a live kingfisher.

Kingfishers are extremely shy birds.  Often all you see is a dazzling blue flash as one whizzes past at lightning speed.  But in August, almost as soon as the kingfisher chicks have learned to catch fish for themselves, their parents drive them away.  This gives good opportunities to see the youngsters as they're forced to find new territories of their own.

Wearing subdued colours, or camouflage clothing can help.  But if you're patient, and can sit still and quiet you can very often get good views of these beautiful, and surprisingly small birds.  The best time for kingfisher watching is usually early in the morning.  Listen out for the high-pitched call which sounds like "zzrit" or "zzrit-it-it".

Kingfishers tend to choose slow moving rivers and streams with good quality water, and of course, a plentiful supply of small fish.  You'll notice they select a favourite branch or reed to perch on while they scan the water for fish.  They'll frequently return to this perch, so if you just keep your eyes on it you can usually get a good view.

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