TWITCHERS are in for a spring treat as two pairs of kingfishers are currently breeding at a popular hot spot for bird-lovers.

The kingfishers are part of a whole array of breeding activity commencing for many species at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre.

In particular, there has been a wave of activity with two pairs of kingfishers breeding at the centre.

It is estimated that there are 4,900 breeding pairs of kingfishers in the UK and with two pairs breeding at Slimbridge the reserve team and reserve volunteers have been monitoring their activity closely.

The activity begins with the renovation an old nesting burrow or a construction of a new one in the kingfisher bank, a vertical wall of soil about two metres high.

The nest burrow can be up to one metre long in length, rising slightly from the entrance hole.

Once a home is chosen for the pair, the male will presents fish to the female in order to get her into condition to grow, lay and incubate the eggs. There is frequent mating throughout this period.

The sex of each kingfisher is easily identified; the female has an orange edging to her otherwise black bill, so the females wears ‘the lipstick’. The males have a full black bill.

They incubate typically five to seven eggs for about three weeks. Once hatched, kingfishers spend around four week raising the chicks with both the male and female feeding them in the nest hole with up to a hundred fish a day and some aquatic invertebrates.

The juveniles will then fledge the nest and may stay around the bank for a couple of days but the parents will chase them off as prepare for a second brood.

In previous years, the juveniles have been spotted around the South Lake and Martin Smith hide as this has been a good place for them to fish.

Dave Paynter, reserve manager at WWT Slimbridge says:“The pair should be very active over the next couple of weeks at the purpose built Kingfisher Hide at Slimbridge Wetland Centre.

“This is a great time to come and see them, once incubation begins in early to mid-April, they will become less active with regular change over at the nest as they share incubation.

"Activity will increase again once they start feeding the youngsters so keep an eye on the website for up to date information, as this is another great time to see them”.

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