The weather broke and there was torrential rain all day on the 18th. Even I didn’t venture out of doors on that day. The next day was quiet in the meadows. The rain had flattened some of the long grass at the river’s edge so it was easier to see longer stretches of water at a time. Despite that I saw and heard no kingfishers at all.
I watched the nest from a distance this morning for an hour – still nothing. But on the way back there was a lot of very noisy territorial flying and chasing where the stream comes in from the Glapthorn direction. It could be an interloper from a territory up there, maybe a fledgling. Or maybe one or both of the pair’s own chicks is still outstaying its welcome? If that’s true it would be great – they could have moved up the stream to get away from the parents when they disappeared and are now trying to get back to the river to fish.
Whatever, I saw two birds chasing in circles from the river into the trees before dashing off across the meadows. Then another came out of the trees and flew low to the water in the direction of the nest. There was possibly another still calling from further into the trees too. All very exciting!
I went back in the afternoon and there were noisy goings on again in the same place. This time, though, there only appeared to be two birds and it seemed more about courtship than territory. A male perched high in a tree long enough for me to get a photo while the female (presumably) wheeled round the outside of the trees and into the woods. Then there would be a flight towards the nest and lots of calling along the cut.
This was all very confusing. I thought they’d laid and were already sitting. If so, they were both out of the nest for long periods at a time. Maybe they’d laid but something had gone wrong and they were trying again? Or maybe there had been no eggs to start with, though there were definitely birds going into the nest a couple of weeks ago?
Two years ago I saw my first brood of chicks two weeks later than this year, so there is obviously some leeway on dates. It’s going to be difficult to predict this time when the chicks might leave the nest. I had an interesting chat with a wild swimmer who had seen a chick at very close quarters on the cut on 31 May, which was when I saw their reflections hidden under branches on the main river. It was good to find out that they had been in different places. It might be worth getting a canoe to investigate that area at the end of July – it would be very difficult to spot anything from the bank.