Kingfisher hints and tips - where to spot one this autumn

With increased sightings of this vibrant yet elusive bird, here are some tips on where best to spot them!

Many visitors enjoy fantastic views of kingfisher across our wetlands and sightings increase greatly during the autumn months, along with your chances of seeing one.

But how do you know where to look for this vibrant yet elusive bird on site? And what do you look out for?

Kingfisher - Ian Henderson (1).jpg

The first thing you need when trying to spot a kingfisher is patience - and a lot of it.

Sometimes it's down to sheer luck, but most often, success involves a great deal of waiting and hoping. That said, the kingfisher that take up home on our site are pretty regular visitors to the saline lagoon - particularly in autumn - so this is a great place to start your search.

Here are some of the other points that are favoured on our reserve:

  • Keep an eye out from the Lagoon View Hide over the lagoon itself, where they will often perch on posts before diving to catch fish. They will return to the same spot continuously if successful and these perching points give them great views of the water and their potential prey underneath the surface.
  • The other side of the Lagoon View Hide looks over our reedbed and kingfisher pool - another spot where they will perch to hunt or preen. This also provides a lovely backdrop with potential sightings of other birds in the reeds, as well as along the river towards the west.
  • The gully is a great place to see kingfisher. That famous flash of vibrant blue can often be spotted flitting upstream here, towards our collection areas. Keep an eye out just as you head through the fox-proof gates in between the saline lagoon and Wader Lake.
  • The River Wear itself is a potential place to spot kingfisher too. Listen for their strident calls as they flit along the waterway. If you're lucky, you may see them resting along the edges of the riverbank.
  • Our amphibian and dragonfly ponds have also been known to see kingfisher from time to time, so pause an extra moment in this area, while looking through Window on the Wear and any other spots that offer points for a kingfisher to rest and hunt from.
  • Northumbrian Water Hide has enjoyed an increase in kingfisher sightings recently, thanks to habitat improvements made by our team. Look to the perching points for possible hunting activity!
  • While not as common, the Stream Channel just in front of our centre building does get sightings and in early September we were treated to a kingfisher zipping back and forth beneath the cafe windows one morning. Listen out for their call as they fly low over the stream, often landing in the large willow tree towards the side.

We would always encourage you to chat to other visitors too. The chances are our regular members will have seen one or be looking to spot one themselves. Sharing knowledge is so important and something that can offer great insight, as well as additional information sharing!

Our latest sightings page has the most up-to-date sightings around our reserve or feel free to ask on arrival if any kingfisher have been seen that day. Keep a check on our social media too, as visitors regularly tag us in kingfisher-related posts!

We love seeing any photos you may take as well, so if you're lucky enough to get a kingfisher on camera, please do share them with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @WWTWashington

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