Kingfishers spotted nesting at Slimbridge earlier than ever before

A pair of kingfishers have been spotted nesting at Slimbridge Wetland Centre near Stroud — the earliest kingfisher activity the centre has ever seen — with staff hoping they may have up to three broods this year.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
Slimbridge Wetland Centre has spotted its earliest ever kingfisher activity at the centre this February 2024.

Slimbridge Wetland Centre has spotted a pair of kingfishers building their nest at the reserve, earlier than ever before. 

They've started digging a hole to build their nest in the banks opposite the aptly named Kingfisher Hide at the popular family attraction, indicating that 2024 could be a promising year for breeding — with the team at the wildlife reserve closely monitoring their activity. 

There are around 4,900 breeding pairs of kingfishers in the UK currently. When ready to breed, the birds will either renovate an old nesting burrow or build a new one each year, with some reaching up to one metre long. Males then present fish to their female mates to encourage them to grow, lay and incubate eggs. 

Each pair will typically incubate between five and seven eggs for around three weeks before they hatch. They then spend up to four weeks raising the chicks in their nest hole, with both males and females feeding the babies up to 100 fish and aquatic invertebrates a day. 

Fledglings tend to leave the nest after around 25 days and are often chased off by their parents, in preparation for a second clutch of eggs. Kingfishers usually have two broods per year, but Slimbridge has seen birds have three broods in the past and is hoping 2024 may be one of those years. 

Slimbridge's reserve manager, Dave Paynter, said: 'We had a brilliant breeding season for kingfishers in 2023 and in January the reserve team was busy getting the banks ready for this year’s birds. It was fantastic to see a pair of kingfishers already digging from the beginning of February. The early start could be due to the mild winter. The Kingfisher Hide offers great views of these special birds and we hope to have another bumper year for them.'

Visitors to Slimbridge can try to spot the kingfishers from the Kingfisher Hide, the Zeiss Hide, the Decoy Hide and from the Estuary Tower, with admission costing from £15.90 for adults, £10.45 for juniors aged four to 17 and free for children under four.

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