Belted Kingfisher in Murcia

A new message from Gilly and Dave from the Arboleas Bird Group, this about the Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon, an American kingfisher not unknown in Europe and a major twitch, which has been around for at least a month. I used to see them regularly in the winter in the Bahamas where they would fish not only over fresh water, hovering, but also over the sea when it was relatively calm. Herewith Dave's chronicle and photo to their cracking start to the year.

As the Arboleas Birding Group trip today was cancelled due to the persistent rain, Gilly and I checked up on www.rarebirdspain.net to check out the last known location of the Belted Kingfisher. So this morning, in the pouring rain, we headed for the village of El Albujon in the Murcia province. The village was a bit awkward to get to, but well signposted. Following the supplied directions we headed down the N-301 till it was crossed by a concrete sided canal. We turned left along a small tarmacked road till we saw to our left a raised bank with a chain linked fence upon it. We knew from the satellite map this was the Megaceryle water deposit. We turned immediately right onto a road which down the side of that deposit and the much larger one behind it.

There, on the power lines between the road and the second deposit, was the Belted Kingfisher some 100 yards ahead of us. It was not fazed by passing vehicles. We drove only 25 yards closer. It flew over the water, hovered for 15 seconds, the returned to the wire. Managed to get a distant record shot before it flew to the south. Cracking bird. Was astounded by its size. Looked nearly Jackdaw size.

For the record :- Time 0930 hrs; date Thursday 7th January 2010

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