A Crusade of Kingfishers
Last Sunday, Dominic and I cruised from Susui to nearby Munia Island. Recently abandoned, the villagers that lived here sold the island to a Japanese development firm and moved to a nearby island, Avea. They left two people behind, an older couple, to maintain a presence on the island, preventing other villages from claiming it. In the wake of Cyclone Winston, the structures were destroyed and the couple moved to Avea.
As we were hoping, the wildlife is thriving in the absence of people. Huge turtles fill the lagoon, and beaches are stocked with fantastic shells. On our first stroll, we spotted kingfisher after kingfisher. Our first kingfishers in Fiji, these squat birds are usually solo hunters, so to see three or four in sequence was a huge treat. We heard enough noise (kingfishers have an indelicate screech) to suggest that they're nesting nearby. At one point we saw five together, but we were never able to find a rookery.
The highlight of the viewing was seeing one of the kingfishers capture a praying mantis. We watched as it thwacked the insect against the branch it was standing on—the mantis arcing over its head before being slammed down again on the opposite side—until the mantis was sufficiently subdued, or broken down, to be swallowed.
After watching Mother Nature at work, we spent a fair amount of time debating the appropriate collective known for this teal beauties: a legion of kingfishers? A squadron? A round table? A court of kingfishers, or a crown, or a realm? Are there castles of kingfishers hidden in the cliffs of this basaltic paradise? Excited to keep looking...