THE kingfishers on the River Devon are having a good summer and I've seen several whilst walking its banks over the last few weeks.

It is great to see kingfishers doing so well and they have been aided by the relatively settled weather over the summer, which has provided the perfect fishing conditions.

They also haven't had to contend with summer spates flooding out their nesting burrows.

More times than not when out I'm out on the Devon, the kingfisher sees me first, and whizzes away on blue-blurred wings.

Often, I curse – fretful that once more I have missed the opportunity to observe this dazzling bird in more detail.

But that is the way with kingfishers, for despite their bright azure and tangerine plumage, they have the uncanny ability to blend seamlessly with the riverside.

They are also shy birds, quick to take flight at the approach of a person. The most frequent sight of one is usually a streak of cobalt flashing low over the river, accompanied by a piercing call.

It is always thrilling to see, but the encounter so fleeting that one is left with an inner craving to see more.

Occasionally, I strike lucky and spot a kingfisher on its fishing perch before it has seen me.

At such times, it is wonderful to watch one sitting patiently on an overhanging branch, scanning the water below carefully.

Then, down it plops into the water, and just as quickly rises back again onto the branch.

If the bird has caught a minnow or stickleback, it is beaten ferociously against the branch to stun or kill it.

The action is so vigorous, that sometimes I can even hear the noise of the fish being pummelled.

The catch is then juggled so that it points head-first down her throat and is swallowed. It is especially important to kill sticklebacks first in case their raised spines catch the gullet.

A minnow or stickleback is a nutritious catch, and even in winter, I imagine a kingfisher wouldn't need to snaffle many to sustain it through a typical day.