From Poland to UK – A Kingfisher’s Record Flight

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A kingfisher from Poland has reportedly set a new record for the longest migration distance between the Continent and the United Kingdom, by flying a distance of more than 620 miles from its Polish habitat to the Orford Ness National Nature Reserve in Woodbridge, Suffolk. The ringed bird was captured, and later released, by members of the Felixstowe-based Landguard Bird Observatory who were carrying out routine studies on bird ringing at Orford Ness.

The previous record set by a bird of this species was 603 miles, traveling from Marloes, Pembrokeshire to Irun in Spain. The last ringed kingfisher found to have traveled from Europe to the UK, traveled 509 miles from Aken, Germany, in October 2008. While it still needs to be confirmed where exactly the kingfisher was ringed in order to establish the correct distance, Poland is further east than any of the other destinations recorded, making it a record-breaking flight irrespective of where in Poland the bird originated. While kingfishers routinely breed in Poland, a small number are known to migrate to the United Kingdom in autumn, presumably to escape areas that face long periods of freezing conditions.

While acknowledging that bird ringing is not a perfect science, the National Trust warden for Orford Ness, Duncan Kent, pointed out that over a period of time huge amounts of information are collected, providing insight into how long birds live, how far they travel and other valuable data for research purposes. Orford Ness site manager for the National Trust, Grant Lohoar, noted that the capture of the ringed kingfisher highlights the importance of this practice as a tool for conservation, as it allows researchers to identify individual birds.

Research carried out at Orford Ness is considered to be of utmost importance as, with its reed beds, marshes and lagoons, the area serves as a critical stopover site for migrating birds. Landguard Bird Observatory volunteer, Mike Marsh noted that if the kingfisher is indeed confirmed to be from Poland it will be one of the longest migrations for this species recorded in the database for bird ringing. The British Trust for Ornithology will follow up with Polish authorities to determine the point of origin of the record-breaking kingfisher.

Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana)

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The smallest of the three different Kingfisher species found in the United States, the Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana), is about 19 cm long and features the large beak and short tail which is typical of the species. It is widely spread from southern Texas through Central and South America to central Argentina. It is often easily spotted whilst perched on a branch of some sort and tends to favor habitats fed by a stream, lake or river as well as coastal areas.

Despite the fact that the Green Kingfisher is said to lack the typical blue-grey coloration that is common with the Kingfisher species, it is quite a pretty little bird. It’s long, stout, dark bill tapers from a green head and crest. The Green head is divided from its green back and other upperparts by a bold white collar and a small white throat area. Often the green on the upperparts is broken by white spotting which helps to differentiate the Green Kingfisher from other kingfisher species. The male Green Kingfisher has a broad, rusty coloured band covering its breast which often features some green spotting on the flanks. The female tends to feature buff-white colouring on her underparts which is broken by two green chest bands. The fact that her breast features two bands and not one further helps to differentiate her from other kingfisher species. The green of the Green Kingfisher may vary from an oily dark-green to a rich hunter-green.

Generally speaking, the Green Kingfisher prefers to make its home near forest streams or in mangroves. Its nest takes the form of a horizontal tunnel that may measure up to a metre in length and is made in a river bank. Here the female may lay between three and four small eggs. They generally prefer to dive for fish as a main food source but they will feed on small lizards and grasshoppers if they are a considerable distance from water. Sometimes, if fish are scarce at their chosen body of water, the Green Kingfisher may choose to feed on small aquatic insects instead.

Israel Chooses National Bird

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The nation of Israel has finally chosen their national bird. After months of selecting and voting, it would seem that the Hoopoe had the most votes. This pretty little bird managed to scoop a massive 35% of the votes, giving it the prestige of becoming the new symbol of Israel.

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