Here at Pamuzinda Safari Lodge – Selous, the River Serui runs right through the Lodge Grounds and we have two decking areas that hang out over the banks. Of the wide variety of birds that regularly use the unobstructed River as a shortcut alleyway there are regular sightings of four species of Kingfisher (Pied, Malachite, Grey headed and Giant) as well as occasional sightings of others such as Woodland and Streaked. The River bank is well supplied with dead trees and there is something fascinating about watching and waiting for a patient Kingfisher to dive down off his perch and come up with lunch clasped firmly in his beak. Here a giant Kingfisher – Megaceryle maxima – waits his chance.
We were fortunate this year in that the Giant Kingfishers have just bred, a couple of hundred meters downstream from the Lodge, and I was pleased to get the accompanying shot of a newly fledged youngster sat on top of the weir one evening when walking my Ridgebacks.
We have a Greyheaded Kingfisher who regularly sits on the swimming pool railings, as can be seen in the accompanying image, and the pair also bred nearby, but some weeks ago.
The Streaked are not so easy to spot as they are a small woodland species with no need to seek out a riverside setting. Whilst most Kingfishers rely on aquatic life forms for the bulk of their diet the Streaked depend, to a large extent, on woodland insects for their fare. Here a parent is feeding a youngster with a beetle.
The tiny Malachite is most often noticed as it flashes by in the sunlight showing its blue, orange and white colours off to full advantage. Even when sat out in the open on a bare branch it is difficult to spot due to its diminutive size. I often see one when I canoe up and down the river but, were I honest, I think my successful sightings owe more to the fact that I know what area to expect it in than to bionic eyesight.
By far the easiest species to spot, normally, is the Pied Kingfisher. Apart from the striking black and white coloured plumage it has a habit of hovering over the water for prolonged periods of time when, of course, it is out in the open and easy to see. It seems to have discovered a successful hunting strategy as a goodly percentage of its dives produce a fish.
The actual, as named, Woodland Kingfisher is, indeed, a beautiful bird. I must confess I do not see them very often and it was only recently that I managed to see one at the same time as being in reach of a camera. Its Blue is almost surreal, and seems to glow even when it is sat in shadow, as was this one. I have not heard it call so cannot say how that sounds. I’m sure it’s nowhere near as raucous as its larger relative the Giant. When those are in full voice you wouldn’t want to be shut in a room with two of them.
There is a good chance of seeing at least one or more of these, together with other riverside bird species covered in other blog entries, on one of our guided Insect Photography Walks.