by Wilton C. Corkern, President
The Accokeek Creek wetland is a great place to see (and hear) Belted Kingfishers. Perched on a bare branch above the water, a Kingfisher looks a bit like a bigger, stockier Blue Jay. Its back is solid blue-gray; its head large and double-crested; its neck ringed with a broad white collar. Its distinctive “metallic rattle” of a call often precedes a sighting. A solitary bird except during the nesting season, the Kingfisher is fiercely territorial and announces its presence to any intruder, including a human one.
Catherine Krikstan, the Accokeek Foundation’s Chesapeake Conservation Corps Volunteer, is quite an accomplished birder. However, she announced shortly after her arrival here late last fall, she was missing a Belted Kingfisher from her life list. Kingfishers are year-round residents here, and a lucky observer may see one at Accokeek Creek or at the Farm Pond during the winter months. However, we are much more likely to spy a Kingfisher during the spring, summer, and early fall. I advised Catherine to slow down each morning and evening as she crossed the Accokeek Creek, and to be observant and patient. (This is a habit I practice myself, much to the chagrin, I suspect, of other motorists who wonder why I’m driving 10 miles per hour along that stretch).
Yesterday, a breakthrough! Catherine logged her first confirmed Kingfisher sighting. Now, we’ll be able to compare notes on a regular basis: “I saw a pair flying and chasing one another ….” “I saw one catch a fish ….” “One flew across the road right in front of my car this morning, chattering up a storm ….”