Friday, January 23, 2009

Horses and Kingfishers

Tomorrow, the first annual trail ride and fundraiser through Four Holes Swamp will be hosted by the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest. We will post images after the event, but here is a Google Earth link to the 9.83-mile ride.

While walking the boardwalk in search of an item a visitor dropped, we heard a Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon) north of the boardwalk at #5. Prior to the beavers creating a pool of water beneath the powerline (see blog), we only saw kingfishers at the end of the boardwalk along the open water of Goodson Lake. Now, however, the deeper water beneath the powerline plus the spillover continuously feeding the downstream portion of the dammed creek channel provide the kingfishers additional feeding habitat. The bird in the image is a female, since females of this species sport the rusty belt and flanks. She is perched above the creek channel into which she will dive should she spot a suitable fish or insect meal.

We know where the Belted Kingfishers of Beidler Forest hunt, but we have yet to discover a nest cavity. Belted Kingfishers burrow 1-8 feet through the dirt into a stream, swamp or road bank to form an upward-sloping nesting cavity. The bird's territory often only includes the 1.5 miles of stream and adjoining vegetation. Therefore, the nesting area sould be at either end of the powerline cut where the ground slopes up out of the swamp, unless there is a high piece of ground near the edges of the powerline cut. Maybe the kingfishers in the swamp will accept a large, rotten stump or log as a nesting cavity site. We have plenty of those!

We may need to track the birds with binoculars, because the area beneath the powerlines is definitely easier to cover on the wing than on the ground...well, swamp!

Image by Mark Musselman

No comments: