Common Kingfisher and the fish that got away

Lee Tiah Khee photographed a Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) catching a little fish. The kingfisher then flew it to its original perch to enjoy its meal (above left). Unfortunately, in trying to manipulate the fish for swallowing (above right), the fish slipped free and fell back into the water (below left). The kingfisher simply looked on, as if surprised (below right).

John Vickerman commented on the sequence of photographs thus: “Just goes to show that if you keep watching – or photographing – common birds, sooner or later you’ll come up with something that is seldom recorded. Kingfishers don’t often make mistakes, but this wonderful sequence shows it can happen.”

Images by Lee Tiah Khee.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.


4 Responses

  1. Coincidently, this looked like a replica of the same kingfisher and the same species of fish that was being swallowed tail first in the earlier post!

  2. From the pictures, the kingfisher seemed to have tossed the fish before being perched properly. Hence, it was off-balance and this lead to the fish’s escape.

  3. The kingfisher needs to reposition the fish for swallowing head-first. I suppose it depends on the experience of the bird…

  4. Alex Ong (eX.A.K.R.)

    I have personally seen kingfishers with fish that got away from them myself – I was cycling along the Kallang River in the Potong Pasir area when I chanced upon a kingfisher with a fish. The bird was trying to kill the fish by beating it on a tree branch it was perched on when the fish somehow slipped from it’s beak and fell onto the river bank below. I was afraid that I might had scared the kingfisher into dropping it’s prey at that time!


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