NAIROBI PARK DIARY

The fishing kings

Contrary to their name, they are not all male, nor do they only eat fish

In Summary

• It is very rewarding to watch them in action

Kingfishers
Kingfishers
Image: GARETH JONES

After plentiful rains this year, all of the rivers, streams and dams are well filled. The rains are always restoring and bringing an abundance of new life. This includes many fish and aquatic creatures that in turn attract species like kingfishers, who feast on such protein abundance.

Kingfishers are incredibly created and are always a pleasure to watch for those who take time to find them. According to the checklist of birds of Nairobi, there are six species of kingfishers that frequent the park, ranging from rarely seen to commonly seen, namely malachite kingfishers, pied kingfishers, pygmy kingfishers, brown-hooded kingfishers, grey-headed kingfishers and striped kingfishers.

Most kingfishers seemingly feed on fish as their name implies. However, they also eat small aquatic creatures like frogs, insects and spiders. Their flight is fast and direct, thanks to their short wings.

 
 

It is very rewarding to watch “the fishing kings”, often perched patiently on a reed stalk over the edge of the water. They sit quietly and then suddenly strike at lightning speed to hit the water, and very often emerge with their catch in the beak.

It’s also kind of funny that their name is male-orientated, as there are also many queens among the kingfishers. Maybe their females should be queenfishers? Just joking.

The park has a great variety of birds, as many as 550 species at certain times, and many have beautiful colours. I always find it a joy to see birds when driving in the park. God has created such amazing diversity. Next time you are in the park, try to sit quietly at a waterpoint and enjoy the moments as you watch “the fishing kings” in with their fantastic action.