Date: 8/25/18 5:02 am
From: Steve Johnson via VA-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: [VA-bird] Kingfisher and GB Heron behavior (1 question, 1 report)

Hello birders,
Yesterday Lynn and I kayaked on Bull Run at Fountainhead Reg. Park (Fairfax County). Two interesting observations, and one question.

A Kingfisher entertained us with at least a dozen flights between perches near us. That much is not unusual in my experience; but all of these flights were high, between high perches. Several times it flew upwards from the perch. All of the flights were between 20 and 50 feet above the water surface. It never hovered, never swooped near the water, and never appeared to be looking down at the water. Pretty sure there was only one Belted Kingfisher there, judging by the range of different perches, and the fact we never saw or heard another.

For any other bird I would simply assume this was fly-catching - there were lots of bugs in the air, as evidenced by foraging dragonflies and Eastern Wood-Pewees. But, a fish-catching bird, fly-catching? The Birds of North America web site description for BEKI implies that fish are by far the dominant food source, together with a slew of other possible foods including insects. It says nothing about them fly-catching.

Has anyone else seen BEKI fly-catching? I could not see any insects in its bill during this performance.

The other odd behavior, at least we haven't seen it previously, was a Great Blue Heron with drooped wings, perched in the shallow edge of the river. It was thermoregulating, according to Birds of North America. The wings appear like a caricature of a person with extremely oversized pants, held wide open and low around the knees. It's striking how low the "shoulder joints" can be placed, when the bird does this. We'll add a photo to our eBird report.

Steve Johnson

Fairfax, Virginia

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