If ever we needed proof that the kingfisher really is king of the fishers, here it is. Wildlife photographer Paul Sawer captured these incredible images of the bird’s hunting skills at a pond in Suffolk in the UK.
For common kingfishers (Alcedo atthis) like this one, small freshwater fish are top of the menu, although insects and small crustaceans will also do. The birds hunt by plunging down into the water after zeroing in on potential prey from an elevated perch.
The fishing pros are helped by handy adaptations like transparent third eyelids, called nictitating membranes (you’ll see them if look closely at the underwater shots), which cover the eyes for protection and visibility as the birds hit the water.
Once a fish is spotted, the bird will dive down at speeds of around 40mph in an aerodynamic arrow shape. When its beak is on the target, the kingfisher will re-emerge from the water and fly back to its tree, where the fish is quickly dispatched with repeated blows against the branch.
Mastering these skills is no easy task, and many kingfisher fledglings will drown or starve if they don’t learn quickly enough.
To see more of Paul Sawer’s outstanding images please visit his website on the link:
This article was first published by Earth Touch News on 27 Oct 2015.