Animals
kingfisher

By Jacob King


A hungry female kingfisher takes no prisoners at it swallows an entire frog in one go – even ‘tenderising’ the poor creature before swallowing it head first.

Teacher Antoinette Kloppers captured this stunning sequence of pictures as the bird tucked in to her four-legged dinner at Pilanesberg Nature Reserve, South Africa.

PIC BY ANTOINETTE KLOPPERS/MERCURY PRESS

The pied kingfisher perched herself on a tree before juggling the frog between her beak and digesting it in its entirety – with one image showing it about to plunge down her throat vertically.

Antoinette described how the bird bashed the frog around to ‘tenderise’ it before chomping the whole thing down.

Antoinette, 49, from Johannesburg, South Africa, said: “This was a spontaneous sighting. I thought that the kingfisher had captured yet another fish when I noticed to my surprise she had a frog in her beak.

“The frog was probably unaware of the kingfisher beforehand because the bird usually hunts by hovering over the water to detect its prey and dive vertically down, bill-first, to capture its meal at lightning-fast speed.

PIC BY ANTOINETTE KLOPPERS/MERCURY PRESS

“The kingfisher had already landed on the perch with her froggy catch when I went to take the picture.

“She then proceeded to bang the unfortunate frog against the perch to kill it and soften the meal – tenderising it basically.

“She does this by flipping the frog up in the air and bashing it down on the branch. She then proceeds to swallow it head first.

“I say she because it looks like a female – males have a double band across the chess, females a single gorget that is often broken in the middle looking like a bikini top.”

PIC BY ANTOINETTE KLOPPERS/MERCURY PRESS

Antoinette, a qualified librarian, took up photography as a hobby in 2012 and said Mankwe Dam, in the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve, was her favourite place to picture.

Antoinette said: “Kingfishers always have a big appetite, continually hunting for new prey, hovering, diving down , splashing out of the water, taking off, landing. This makes them such wonderful subjects to practice bird photography skills.”

“We have observed that kingfishers love to splash down into the water after a big meal, usually at least three times, maybe also drinking some water in the process.

“The frog looks a bit overwhelmed and resigned to its fate.

PIC BY ANTOINETTE KLOPPERS/MERCURY PRESS

“I love bird photography, especially the thrill of capturing the moment when a giant kingfisher dives into the water and exits with a splash and its prey in its beak.

“The white-fronted bee-eaters are also my favourites, throwing their prey up in the air before swallowing, and the grey herons when they catch a giant-sized fish and swallow it.”