Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Belted Kingfisher

Well, Jackie and I finally made it out onto the water together. We headed west first, toward the brook, then after we explored that, we headed east toward Bryant’s Bridge. The colors of Autumn were in all their splendor, and we couldn’t help but note the colors that were evident elsewhere, as well, such as the lovely winterberry (Ilex verticillata) shrubs with their bright red berries, the jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) stems which had turned a rusty-orange, and the dark maroon leaves of the Devil’s beggar-ticks plant (Bidens frondosa).
Along the way we startled a belted kingfisher, whose sharp, rattle-like call revealed his strong territorial instincts. I’ve always been fascinated by the Belted Kingfisher; the first time I saw one perform his amazing acrobatic feats I was duly impressed: they fly at the water, dive-bombing to capture their prey, sometimes hovering over the water to zero in more accurately; in fact, wide-open water is a habitat requirement for them, so that they can see their prey clearly from a greater distance. I noted that they seemed to be here rather late in the season, and my research bore this out: the kingfishers from the northeast usually are departed by mid-September, though the younger ones stay behind a little while longer. (The one we saw today seemed mature, though.) I was delighted this winter, while in Costa Rica, to see that they overwinter there, and it was pretty inspiring to think that there might be (even if only a remote) chance that the bird I was gazing on there in the tropics, could be one-in-the-same that I knew and loved from upstate New York!


  1. I enjoyed reading your blog this morning after reading Woodswalker. It was fun to get another perspective. I like your drawing of the kingfisher, did you do it while in the kayak? They are really interesting aren't they, especially their choice of nesting habitat. Your blog has been added to my regular morning stops. Thanks

  2. Thank you! It feels so good to be sharing what I love with people who love the same things!Most of my sketches for the nature journal are done in the kayak, but the ones that are well developed are usually done at home.

  3. I love the King Fisher! It makes me miss home, I love the creek in the fall! Where did this name come from "Devil’s beggar-ticks plant"? Beautiful blog!