Progression

The Kingfishers have completed the first clutch of eggs and as of Saturday 27th April they are incubating. The female will have laid 5-6 eggs over the previous week at a rate of about 1 a day. She’s been spending most of her time in proximity to the nest site where she has been making frequent visits to the nest burrow. Throughout this period the male has been bringing fish to pass to the female and they have been mating regularly to ensure each new egg is inseminated.

The transition to incubation sees both birds taking turns incubating the eggs. They can changeover at intervals of anything from 20 minutes to an hour and a half. The instinct to brood must be strong as at this early stage their is a visible urgency in the birds desire to return to the burrow. The female actually evicted the male after 45 minutes while I watched today.

There has been no further sign of the mink and I’m hoping that it stays that way. This is a critical and vulnerable time for the Kingfishers, as they become tied to the burrow for 6 weeks, where they are entirely dependent on the limited security that it provides.

Mating underway!

Everything seems to be progressing well at the moment. The burrow is now complete, confirmed by the onset of mating. The female won’t allow the male to mate with her until she is happy with the burrow, as once mating commences she will begin egg production. Each egg takes about a day to produce and so the burrow must be ready to go as soon as the mating starts.

The female is spending most of her time now around the nest site, waiting for the male to bring her fish. This arrangement serves to help the female conserve all of her energy for the arduous process of egg production (one a day for about 6 days) while at the same time re-enforcing their pair bond.

Week Two -still digging

After a week of sporadic digging, the kingfishers should now be getting close to completing the nest burrow. Once the female has accepted the burrow, the pair will commence mating and the female will lay 5-6 eggs at a rate of approximately one a day until the clutch is complete. Only then will the pair begin incubating the clutch, so the chicks can all hatch around the same time.

Return of the King

After the dramatic events of last year, this year has already proven challenging for the Trent Kingfishers. Over the winter the river has flooded repeatedly, causing more erosion of the banks than I’ve seen in the ten years I’ve been visiting the river. As a result of this the kingfisher bank has lost at least a metre from its face, removing all trace of previous kingfisher burrows.

On March 14th I first saw a pair of kingfishers checking out the bank, however that night it rained heavily, the river flooded and a week later the snow arrived, after which there was no further sign of the kingfishers at the bank.

Although I saw kingfishers as I walked the river, they were alone, appearing to have reverted back to their individual territories throughout the period of snow and sub zero temperatures. Finally the weather improved and the milder sunny weather on the 6th April seems to have been what the Kingfishers were waiting for, as on my return to the bank on Sunday morning I could see the start of a new burrow and a pair of birds sitting on a branch opposite the bank.

Later in the day I carefully positioned myself opposite the bank and watched the kingfishers digging into the bank.

I’m afraid to report that there are still mink present along this stretch of the river and despite my efforts to keep this stretch clear by trapping, the mink are ignoring the traps.

I really don’t know how things will go this year, despite the mink and the floods, the kingfishers still managed to fledge their first brood last year, and hopefully, this years breeding season will be less eventful.