The muddy haunts of Mangrove Kingfisher | Hugh Chittenden

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

At the annual Mangrove Kingfisher count along a canal in the mangroves just south of Richards Bay, a couple of interesting points came to light.

This boat trip is organized by by Bruce Nicholson (and is not for the faint-hearted!)

Annual mangrove Kingfisher count in Richards Bay

By choice, most Mangrove Kingfishers roost on low branches above water (winter). As soon as it gets dark, birds settle in on White Mangrove branches that just happen to be white under-leaf, affording them reasonably good camouflage.

Mangroves in Richards Bay
Mangrove Kingfisher, Richards Bay South Africa
A Mangrove Kingfisher settles in for the night.

Most birds are clean, brilliantly white below, against the darkness of the night...

Mangrove Kingfisher

... but surprisingly, some birds go to bed looking quite scruffy and dirty.

Mangrove Kingfisher, Richards Bay Kwazulu-Natal

Another muddied individual...

A portrait picture of a Mangrove Kingfisher
Mangrove Kingfisher

But, when you consider that the main prey of Mangrove Kingfisher is mud crabs, it is actually surprising that they are invariably so clean and in such good feather condition!

Mangrove Kingfisher eating a crab
Mangrove Kingfisher eating a crab

Recent bird counts along this 600 meter stretch of water:

2018 - 8 birds

2019 - 6 birds

2020 - 7 birds


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