Caught on camera: Coalisland’s royal resident with its catch of the day

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This stunning image captures one of the rarest and most elusive of Ireland’s wild birds about to gobble down a minnow plucked from Coalisland Canal.

For the past few weeks, local naturalists have been shooting pictures of a family of kingfishers along the popular canal, a task that normally requires hours of patience. In fact, this year, the iconic blue birds have been delighting walkers and passers-by with their antics.

Kingfishers are creatures of habit and they normally hunt for fish on the same stretches of river every morning. They fly rapidly, low over the water, and hunt fish from riverside perches, occasionally hovering above the water’s surface. They are vulnerable to hard winters and loss of habitat through pollution or management of watercourses not sympathetic to wildlife. Kingfishers are amber listed because of their unfavourable conservation status in Europe.

Local conservationist Plunkett Scullion said that most people would be lucky to see a kingfisher once in their lifetime, but that visitors to the canal are spoiled with the abundance of local wildlife.

However, he complained that the canal is not being promoted and protected enough by local agencies.