Resident on Irish streams, rivers and canals.

Very distinctive when seen well with its brightly coloured plumage. The underparts are a bright orange-red, while the wings and back of the head are dark blue. The back, rump and tail are a bright, almost "electric" blue and usually draw attention to a flying bird. Despite these bright colours, can be easily overlooked perched motionless on a branch beside a stream or river on the look-out for fish. During the breeding season, females have a small red patch at the base of the bill, which is not shown by adult males.

Credit: BirdWatch Ireland

The Kingfisher and the Bullet Trail

You may be surprised to learn that the Courageous Kingfisher has strong connections to trains or one train in particular, the Shinkansen or bullet train.
So what is the connection between the kingfisher and the Shinkansen you might ask? Well early models of the Shinkansen created a sonic boom, or loud noise when they exited tunnels, which didn’t prove popular with local people, especially when they were awakened by the noise!
Engineers and Scientists were tasked with finding a solution and some believed that by studying nature they might find an answer.

When scientists observing the kingfisher diving into water at high speed they realised they created very little splash and the reason for this was down to the wonderful shape of their beaks. It was suggested by Scientists at the University of Kyushu that if they copied the kingfishers beak and used that design on the Shinkansen they might be able to reduce the problems which caused the sonic booms, so they set about testing their theory.


When scientists use nature to come up with design this is known as biomimicry and there are lots of examples where nature has inspired efficiencies in design.

After extensive testing, their results were extremely promising which led to a new kingfisher inspired design for the Shinkansen. Thanks to this new design the Shinkansen trains were able to run faster without creating sonic booms, better still, because of the new aerodynamics, these new trains used less energy, which benefits our planet and saved the rail company money.

I’m glad the DART doesn’t travel at 320km per hour like the Shinkansen, otherwise we wouldn’t get to enjoy the amazing views we’re able to enjoy through the window to our beautiful biosphere.


Flag Iris Plant

Along damp ditches and riverbanks, in marshes and bogs, around lakes and ponds, this handsome plant shows its large, bright yellow flowers from June to August.  The large blooms (8-10cm) are unmistakeable.  In clusters of twos and threes, each flower has three erect standard petals below which there are three petals which curve downwards.  The lower petals are beautifully marked with purple veins leading into the mouth. The sword-shaped tall leaves have prominent ribs and rise from the base.  In autumn the seedpods are large, three-segmented capsules which contain numerous seeds.  This is a native plant belonging to the family Iridaceae.

Credit: Wildflowers of Ireland