Common Kingfisher – Alcedo atthis

I’m usually in too much of a hurry to notice wildlife but today, within one hour of observing a Brown Hawker dragonfly, I got a great view of a Common Kingfisher. The bird must have been perched just a few centimetres above the water within 3 metres of where I was standing at Portland Basin. It took flight when Stuart (off the Springer) disturbed it while he was untying his boat. I instantly called out to Sharon (Stuart’s wife) and she too watched it fly under the bridge and away.

As for its name, ‘Common’ Kingfisher, I don’t think I’ve seen one in its natural habitat more than three or four times in my entire life. Also, given that it is one of Britain’s most brightly coloured and interesting birds, I think it deserves a much more glamorous and prestigious name. I think I’ll suggest to Stuart and Sharon that they name their boat – it’s not yet been named as they’ve only recently acquired it and they’re still refurbishing it, Kingfisher. Although, that’s probably a very common name for a boat.

I didn’t, of course, get a picture. But here’s what a Common Kingfisher looks like …

Common Kingfisher

I’m inspired to spend more time looking at the wildlife of the Inland Wateways.

Aeshna grandis – Brown Hawker – Dragonfly

Spotted today, at Portland Basin on the Peak Forest Canal, Ashton-Under-Lyne. I snapped this dragonfly with my mobile phone, as it basked in the early evening sunshine, and easily identified it on the British Dragonfly Society website as a Brown Hawker. My photo is obviously poor quality, but there are some fantastic images of the Brown Hawker on the British Dragonfly Society website. I’d be very interested to learn about other dragonflies that inhabit the Inland Waterways of the UK. I’ve seen other species but never taken the time to identify them. I will from now on. In the meantime, if you’ve seen any other species of Dragonfly on the Inland Waterways please don’t hesitate to let me know by adding a comment to this posting.

Brown Hawker Dragonfly

Length: 73mm. A large Hawker with obvious golden brown wings. Both sexes have strong yellow stripes on the sides of the thorax and no ante-humeral stripes. The male is chocolate brown with small blue and yellow markings. It has a noticeable waisted appearance.
The female has small yellow markings and lacks the males waist.

Breeds in standing or slow-flowing water laying its eggs in floating or emergent vegetation or timber. Hunts well away from water and may be found hawking woodland rides well into the evening.

Status and Distribution
Generally common and widespread, though absent from Scotland and some parts of the southwest.
Distribution map from the National Biodiversity Network Gateway (opens in new window).

Similar species
Similar in shape to other Hawkers but the brown wings are a clear guide to its identity.