21 February 2015

Nominate subspecies of Pied Kingfisher – Dhahran golf course

The nominate subspecies C. r. rudis that occurs from central and southern Turkey and Israel to Syria, Iraq and southwest Iran as well as northern Egypt, Nile Valley and sub-Saharan Africa is the subspecies present in Dhahran. These are told by their distinctive medium-size and black and white plumage lacking any black spots on the flanks and side of the throat which is shown by the two other nearby subspecies that are also blacker in plumage tones. Pied Kingfishers generally use small and large lakes, large rivers, estuaries, coastal lagoons, mangroves and sandy and rocky coasts and require waterside perches such as trees, reeds, fences and posts. They eat predominantly fish and regularly hover particularly so in windy conditions. Birds fly low over the water with steady wing beats and then rise 2–10 metres in the air, with body held nearly vertical, bill held down and wings beating rapidly; they then dive down into the water and if successful swallow prey on the wing without beating on branch or something similar. Birds are generally sedentary. In non-breeding season, local movements can extend over several hundreds of kilometres and this is probably how birds enter the Eastern Province. The bird in Dhahran spends a lot of time hovering over the water trying to catch fish and occasionally sits on top of acacia trees to rest and is frequenting a small pond with reed fringed edges on Dhahran golf course. The bird may well have been around for most of the winter but as no one birdwatcher the golf course as it is out of bounds the kingfisher remained unfound. Since its discovery on 13 February 2015 it has been seen each day in the same location although does go missing for considerable amounts of time. The bird is a female as it only has a single breast band whereas males have two bands.