Over the course of the last year staff and volunteers have been working hard managing the woodland at Thornton Ellers, and where was once a completely overgrown pool and thus allowing no light to the water’s surface, now sits a much more open site which is proving to be attractive to a whole range of wildlife. The overall biodiversity has been increased with birds, plants, fish and invertebrates now thriving at a site which was once dominated by alder and willow scrub. Since the work has been carried out each time we’ve visited we’ve heard a Kingfisher calling, and after all the hard work managing the site it’s a great feeling to know that wildlife like this species are benefiting.
By looking at the bill on the bird pictured below we know that it is a male due to the all dark colouring, for a female the lower part of the bill (mandible) would have a reddish base, other than that the sexes are generally similar. The youngsters can be separated from the adults by the colour of their feet (very dark) compared with the vibrant orange/red of the adults, a white tip to the beak is another feature of the young. Juveniles also lack the vibrant colours of their parents, appearing much duller in their first year.
As mentioned above, the female has a reddish base to the lower part of the bill (mandible), and is a slightly duller bird, particularly the one pictured here, with the turquoise blue not being quite as bright.
The best place to look for Kingfishers in the valley is along the Pocklington Canal, particularly around Melbourne, and also along the River Derwent north to Malton. Wheldrake Ings and North Duffield Carrs have also produced records this year. Two of our other NNR's - Forge Valley Woods and Duncombe Park are both prime locations for this species. However, good and prolonged views of a Kingfisher are often hard to come across, so plenty of patience is needed! If you’re lucky you may come across one perched in riverside branches as it watches its prey before making its move, piercing the surface of the water with its dagger like bill.