The Woodland Kingfisher of Ezemvelo by Sean Jones
“It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.” – Aesop
Among all of the aesthetically pleasing aspects of nature is a facet of gracious beauty – birds. There are over 850 species of birds in South Africa, and more than 240 of these species occur in the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve. Thanks to their great abundance, these birds make for spectacular viewings.
Gliding through the treetops of the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, the striking woodland kingfisher looks to find a branch on which to perch. This blue-backed bird, ranging between 20 and 23 centimetres in length, can be seen surveying its prey from above, waiting to catch the next insect, fish or even bird that it finds appealing. A view from the reception area will allow you to see this elegant bird diving down to the swimming pool to catch whatever interesting insects that are lingering on the surface of the water.
This kingfisher is widely distributed in Africa – from Pretoria to south of the Sahara desert. The tranquil sound of this beautiful bird will often have you scanning the treetops to catch a glimpse of the marvellous colours it beholds. If you are lucky enough to gain a sight of this ‘Bosveldvisvanger’, as it is called in Afrikaans, be sure to look at it in graceful flight. With its trilling song, it tempts people to return its call in such a serene environment.
This stunning bird enjoys its open woodland savanna habitat and can often be seen along rivers and other water bodies. It nests in old barbet, woodpecker or even natural tree holes.
On Ezemvelo Nature Reserve there is often the chance to watch these birds catch fish in the dam close to the reception. The woodland kingfisher is masterful in its technique, as it competes with the fishermen stationed along the embankment of the dam. Diving down from its perch, it soars across the dam looking to swoop up a fish in its red-and-black bill, before enjoying its sumptuous meal.