The shy and spectacular kingfisher
Catapulting with wings and tail, the kingfisher whooshes intro the air, the trout firmly in its break. Ascending to a perch above the pool, the bird kills the catch by repeatedly smacking it against a limb, then swallows it headfirst. Unjustly accused of endangering trout populations, the kingfisher faced extermination by sportsmen in some countries until protected by law. Actually,trout account for only a small fraction of the bird's diet largely such fish as the minnow and stickleback. In fact, kingfishers help trout by eating insect larvae injurious to fish eggs and young.
In northern Europe, where frozen streams make fishing difficult in winter, kingfishers often migrate to icefree estuaries.
They set up their equipment close to an old streambank nest before the bird's arrival. Then in early May, when kingfisher pair chose the site, the preparation paid off. From a blind above the stream they caught the kingfisher's acrobatics, most of them too fast to spot with the human eye.
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