Kingfisher hotel in Cambridgeshire reports success

A hotel for kingfishers is celebrating its first breeding success less than a year after throwing open its doors.

The ‘bird hotel’ in Ely, Cambridgeshire has nearly 200 entrance holes leading to tailored nesting boxes, and the project looks to be a success with the first guests successfully raising a brood of six chicks.

The hotel is the newest addition to a 25-hectare wetland site, which, under the watchful eye of landowner Professor Tony Martin, has become a haven for breeding birds.

Four years ago, Professor Martin set about transforming what was then an arable plot into a patchwork of reed beds, shallow pools and shingle islands, with the help of Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme.

The presence of breeding kingfishers is regarded as an indicator of high quality wetland habitat.

Professor Martin said: ‘It is a privilege and thrill to host such iconic birds so soon after completion of the nesting colony. They appeared as if by magic within weeks – unmistakeable in their orange and shimmering blue plumage.’

Now Professor Martin, a biologist with a permit for monitoring kingfishers, is keeping track of the six chicks after fitting each one with a uniquely identifiable ring.

Kingfisher young fly the nest when they are 24-37 days old to establish their own territories, and these rings will help build up a valuable picture of where they disperse to.

Other guests checking in to the wetland this year include 40 pairs of breeding avocet, and black-tailed godwits – one of Britain’s rarest breeding birds.

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