The scolding kingfisher

Months ago, we were invited to London by good friends of ours (I met Paul via my blog years ago, and we have been friends ever since) to go see Trooping the Colour, the official annual celebration of the Queen’s birthday carried out by regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies. It is quite a spectacle…We’d seen it five years ago and enjoyed it very much, so we decided to go this year, too. Just for a weekend. Going to London is so easy: there are direct, cheap flights to Stansted from Pisa…

Anyway, that is where Stefano and I spent the first the first weekend in June. Msargaret Kingfishers fighting 1230335

Last week Paul returned to Florence with us, and in fact he was here for Stefano’s birthday (June 7th: TANTISSIMI AUGURI!!!). He spent a week with us, mostly photographing the birds in the Parco della Piana, one of Florence’s main nature reserves…It’s a great place to photograph black-winged stilts during their breeding season, for instance, but you can also find night herons and sacred ibises there, and many other species, too, of course.

And then there are the kingfishers. I absolutely adore kingfishers…such beautiful colors…And fun to watch, too…

But try to get one in flight: for me, an impossible feat.

But let’s get to my story. Yesterday morning Paul and I were sitting inside one of the reserve’s hides, waiting for some bird activity (of which there wasn’t much for a long time), trying not to sweat too much (oooof, verrrrrry hot in Florence right now) or fall asleep…zzzzzz…

Our patience was rewarded at last: two kingfishers perched on a branch over one of the ponds started to become extremely agitated. Based on our observations, this is what we think had been going on:

The adult had been diving and fishing over and over in the pond, in most cases successfully. But it was swallowing all the fish it was catching, so it looked like it was showing its “baby” how to fish. Well, okay, as you can see, the two birds were almost the same size. This was no “baby,” so from now on I will call it “Squawky.”

Even though Squawky was diving and really trying to catch a fish, it was coming up with nothing, and had to rest afterwards for quite some time, offering many photo opportunities to the two hot and tired photographers in the hide…But oh, how I felt sorry for Squawky!!!

Then at one point the tired, terribly frustrated, and probably very hungry Squawky began fluttering its wings in front of its parent, begging to be fed. And that was our stroke of luck…the photos we’d been waiting for…

After a few seconds of all this annoying fluttering, the adult began severely scolding its offspring, screeching like a pterodactyl. Squawky didn’t actually seem very perturbed and kept fluttering, with its mouth wide open.

I managed to take this photo, which, okay, isn’t so great, but it will at least give you an idea of what we saw (you can click on the photo to make it larger).

I will have to go back to the reserve some day soon to see how Squawky is getting along…Paul, who returned to London this morning, will certainly want to know, too! 🙂