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Baby kingfisher debut catches imagination

First recorded sighting in three decades of a baby kingfisher at Bog Meadows in west Belfast

BIRD lovers have been aflutter at the first recorded sighting in three decades of a baby kingfisher at an inner city nature reserve.

The dazzling blue bird turned up in a mist net at Bog Meadows Nature Reserve, in west Belfast when volunteers were conducting one of their regular morning visits to record, ring, and release breeding birds.

An adult kingfisher, caught earlier this summer, was the first kingfisher to be discovered by the bird ringers since they started running the tagging site at Bog Meadows in 1995.

Aidan Crean, from Friends of Bog Meadows, said they were "absolutely thrilled to find kingfishers, right here in the heart of Belfast".

"Bog Meadows is one of the last remaining wildlife sites in the city, but due to its relative isolation and bustling location beside the M1, it's an unlikely spot to see these very vulnerable and shy birds," he said,

"However, the fortunes of this wetland habitat have been transformed, thanks to conservation work carried out by Ulster Wildlife, creating an ideal location for kingfishers and other wetland-loving creatures to thrive."

In recent years, Ulster Wildlife has undertaken major habitat improvement works at Bog Meadows, including deepening and widening ponds and ditches, removing invasive species and controlling scrub to help rejuvenate the wetland.

"There have been several sightings of adult kingfishers along the ponds and streams since the start of spring. This is a good sign that there's plenty of fish to catch and, most importantly, clean water and good habitat," Mr Crean.

"It's doubtful that the birds are nesting at Bog Meadows but, we hope that if the environment is right, they might be encouraged to raise their young here in the future."

Also spotted at the nature reserve is the breeding reed warbler - normally a passage bird in Northern Ireland which has now started to raise its young - and spotted flycatcher.

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