Look at the foot colour of this young Kingfisher, blackish on the normally bright crimson colour. Also the blackish smoky markings on the chest are diagnostic of a juvenile. There is also a light mark on the tip of the bill which remains almost in to adulthood. I would estimate that this bird has only been out of the nest burrow for a week or so but there are no nests sights within at least 2 miles from this spot. At this time of the year young Kingfishers move away from the nest territory to look to establish a territory of their own. I have photographed juvenile Kingfishers in this very spot in July for the last 6 years.
This young Kingfisher is always a skilled hunter and I have already seen him successfully catch 3 fish, I would expect him to do well and survive to adult. Note that he is dealing with the fish by swallowing headfirst, this is to stop the spines getting stuck in the throat and gut. This is instinctive behaviour. If you ever see a Kingfisher carrying a fish tail first you can assume that this bird would be carrying prey to a nest. Incidentally, he caught this Stickleback by momentarily hovering before the dive.
I went back this evening to see if the young Kingfisher was still in the territory. I was expectant and very confident that it would show up and even after I had sat for half an hour without success, I was confident that it would only be a matter of time. Then suddenly, as expected, there it was.
I haven't posted on the blog for a couple of weeks, it's been nice to have a break but I am back today with a vengeance. As many of my regular readers will know, I have had a lot of success over the years with Kingfishers on my local brook. This usually commences in July when the youngsters have fledged their nests and are looking to establish their own territories, I went for a walk this lunchtime to see if I could see any signs in the spots that I have photographed them every year since 2009, I literally walked 100 yards from the car and there was a Kingfisher, right on a perch across the slower trickling shallow water. I immediately went home and got my camera and went back.
Within 10 minutes it was back and I was excited to see it and have the opportunity to take photographs. It is a young newly fledged bird, a male I think. It has smokey black feet and dark smudges on the breast. A house sparrow perched close to it and this was enough to illicit an aggressive response from the nervous little bird. After a few seconds it dived in to the water and emerged with a massive River Minnow making this a very special 30 minutes or so.