This series of cameos involves two pairs of Sacred Kingfishers on the Loddon River at Newstead.
The first set, pair #1, shows two separate instances of courtship feeding – the first with what I think is a robber-fly, the second with a small skink. Courtship feeding occurs during egg formation, laying and incubation and can provide a valuable source of nutrients for females. Many birds engage in courtship feeding.
In this case the female uttered a string of harsh ‘alarm-like’ calls when it spotted the male nearby, after which the male flew in to perform a rapid exchange of food. Male and female Sacred Kingfishers can be hard (perhaps impossible) to distinguish unless you observe this type of behaviour.
While I have occasionally witnessed courtship feeding in Sacred Kingfishers, I’d never before observed them mating. In this case, pair #2 were feeding along a stretch of the river with both birds returning to a succession of perches. I watched on in amazement as the male returned on one occasion to mate with the female. The image series below shows some exquisite details of this remarkable event. Just prior to the mating the female flew in to the river bank below my feet to work on the nest site – traces of mud can be clearly seen on the beak of the female.
Nearby a pair of Rainbow Bee-eaters were starting to inspect potential nest sites … more on that another day.