Orford: Kingfisher from Poland may have set UK migrating record

A KINGFISHER found at a Suffolk nature reserve is thought to have broken the UK record for furthest migration of the species after travelling from Poland.

The bird was caught and released by members of Landguard Bird Observatory at Orford Ness, near Woodbridge, as part of routine bird ringing studies at the site.

It is thought to have travelled more than 1,000km (620 miles) from the coastal Polish city of Gdansk, where it was ringed.

This breaks the previous record set by a British kingfisher which was ringed in Marloes, Pembrokeshire, and found in Irun, Spain, having travelled around 970km.

It is also the most easterly discovery in the UK, with other foreign recoveries coming from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

Mike Marsh, volunteer ringer for the Landguard Bird Observatory, said: “We catch a small number of kingfishers each year at Orford Ness, usually in the autumn, and previously assumed that these had been dispersing juveniles of fairly local origin.

“This will be one of the longest migrations among the kingfishers in the ringing database and we can’t wait to get confirmation of the record from the British Trust for Ornithology and hear about the Polish ringing scheme.”

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Kingfishers are a resident breeding species in the UK but each year a small number migrate here from the continent, probably moving away from places with prolonged freezing conditions in the winter.

The National Trust said the last kingfisher ringed from abroad and found in the UK was on October 29, 2008 and had travelled 819km from Aken in Germany.

Grant Lohoar, Orford Ness site manager for the National Trust, said: “This is a great record for us, but something we wouldn’t have known about if this bird hadn’t been ringed, thanks to our expert volunteers.

“This highlights the importance of ringing as a tool for conservation which allows us to identify birds as individuals.

“Orford Ness is a really important stop-over site for many migrating birds, as they can refuel and rest on the marshes, in the reedbeds or on the many lagoons we have here.”

Kingfishers are generally found near still or slow flowing water on perches from where they hunt, commonly swooping down to the water to catch small fish such as minnow and stickleback.

The longest-lived kingfisher according to ringing recoveries is four years, six months and 13 days, which was set in 1969.