Friday, 4 December 2009

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

OTHER NAMES: Kingfisher, Eurasian Kingfisher
Latin Etymology: Alcedo ("kingfisher") atthis (a Greek name connected to both mythic and real figures)
 Adult Common Kingfisher (subspecies A. a. bengalensis) at Prek Toal, Cambodia - February 2019

Featured Subspecies: Alcedo atthis bengalensis
Weight: 31g  /  Length: 17cm  /  Wingspan: 25cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

Seeing a kingfisher can be tricky - they move at high speed, have low population densities as they are fish specialists, and generally when you do see them it is as a brilliant turquoise streak darting down the river next to you. The fact they live on rivers can work to your advantage - as they use the rivers as high speed roads, sitting along a river where they are known to be will probably eventually yield you a glimpse. Photographing them is an entire other ballgame, and are potentially one of the most tricky of all diurnal birds I've photographed so far - I've only seen them actually sitting still long enough to get my camera out a handful of times, more usually it's a flash of turquoise and orange dashing down the river that is almost instantly gone from sight.

Related Species:
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Alcedinidae
Genus: Alcedo
Subspecies: A. a atthis, A. a. ispida, A. a. bengalensis, A. a. taprobana, A. a. floresiana, A. a. hispiddoides, A. a. salomonensis, A. a. japonica

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Fairly common resident breeder (3,800-4,600 pairs)
 - Seen at sites including Rutland WaterPitsford ReservoirDitchford Gravel Pits and Geddington.
CAMBODIA - Khmer - ចចាតក្រឹម
 A common resident..
 - CAMBODIA/SINGAPORE 2019 TRIP: Numerous at Prek Toal
JAPAN - Japanese カワセミ  /  Kawasemi ("River Kingfisher")
Widespread resident
 - KYOTO 2013 TRIP: A single bird seen fleetingly at Arashiyama

Further Information: BirdForum Opus, IUCN Red ListRSPBWikipedia, Xeno-canto

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