Crossing Swords: Pied Kingfisher swordplays a swordfish

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I find a day incomplete without bird watching. On a recent tour in South Africa I went searching for Cape birds along the Garden Route, and was delighted to be rewarded with the following scenes at the Wilderness Lakes.

A male kingfisher caught a long silvery fish and brought his catch close  to my hideout. On close examination the catch was a swordfish, whose sword had a lethal orange tip, possibly indicating it was poisonous. The kingfisher had drilled his lower mandible through the fish which was wriggling to get free. I was worried the kingfisher would get spiked as they tend to take their prey head first and just gobble it down whole.

The King of the kingfishers went on to bash the fish onto the branch violently for a long period only to swallow it when the sharp sword had broken off, head and all. Many a time the sword barely missed the kingfisher’s optical bulb so close it could puncher the eye easily. An amazing sighting and great to learn that kingfishers can adapt to fresh and sea water prey. This time the bird won but the battle could have gone either way.

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