23 March 2016

East-West Kingfisher Connection

Here in Thetford we are spoilt by sightings of Kingfishers on our daily strolls into the town centre. As we have blogged before, our breeding birds are residents but the birds that we spot in winter may throw a few surprises.

Such was the case of the sixth recovery of a Kingfisher ringed in Germany that has been reported to us. Whilst it may not be the first or the second from Germany, looking at it in more detail we realised that this was a truly remarkable record. The details were brought to our attention by Dr Martin Flade from DDA who ringed the bird on the 23 July 2015 at Lake Brodowin (Brodowinsee) in the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve in Brandenburg, Northeast Germany, only 12 km from the Polish border.

As can be appreciated from the aerial photographs, kindly supplied by Reiner Krause, the area has a very low human population and encompasses about 240 lakes where Kingfishers typically nest on fallen trees.

German adult male Kingfishers are mostly sedentary, but juveniles and females move. Juveniles leave their nesting area a few days after fledging. One German-born juvenile Kingfisher was recovered on Malta only 22 days after it was ringed as a nestling. Another German bird was recovered as far south as Algeria.

The bird that prompted us to write this post was a juvenile female that was found in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, after having hit a window, and it is remarkable for being the furthest east-west movement recorded by any kingfisher ringed in Germany, as shown in the map below.

Landelin (Martin's son) and Yuma ringing Kingfishers in Lake Brodowin
This is an impressive 1,005 km east-west journey that intrigued us and made us look at the Online Ringing & Nest Recording Report to find out how this movement rates against other east-west Kingfisher movements. As shown in the recoveries map below, there is a yellow dot in Poland of a bird that was ringed on the 06/07/2011 in Rz Drawa, Bogdanka, Drawno, Poland and controlled by ringers on the 25/11/2011 in Orfordness; this bird was also a female. Despite coming from further east, the bird ringed in Poland 'only travelled' 972 km in 81 days, so we can say that the bird ringed by Dr Martin Flade is number one on our east-west Kingfisher connection.

The eastern most yellow dot is the bird ringed in Poland and this post's bird is not showing on this map yet.

Many thanks to Dr Martin Flade for highlighting the relevance of this recovery and for supplying the photographs and very interesting information about German ringed Kingfishers. Martin organised the German BBS from 1989 to 2010. He was also a member of the EBCC (European Bird Census Council).

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