UPDATE: 21 Jan 2019. If a male Kingfisher joins this female on the Cottenham Lode then we can hope for Fisher Princes and Princesses by late spring 2019.
The common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) unmistakable at the river bank if you’re quick enough to hear the “pip pip” just before it darts across the water and out of sight. You may well spot one perched on an angled branch or mooring staring keenly at the surface investigating the depths with speary intent.
Unlike many other species, numbers seem to be on the rise in the UK, personally I’ve seen them fishing regally in at least four different locations over recent weeks [this was January to February 2017]. However, it was only with the acquisition of a flashy new lens that have I been fortunate enough to get a shot of one.
The scientific binomial for this bird derives from the Latin alcedo (from the Greek for kingfisher, halcyon) and Atthis, who was a beautiful young woman of Lesbos, and favourite of Sappho. If you were wondering about that former word, halcyon, its etymology can be found here, suffice to say that its modern meaning of calm and peaceful, as in halcyon days of yore, refers to calm weather before the winter solstice. At that point in the calendar, a mythical bird (something like a kingfisher) was said to build its nest on the calm seas. Hence halcyon days are those times when it’s sufficiently calm that you could something as odd as build a nest on the sea! The word has nothing to do with conception nor salt as some sources claim.