Asides from birds of prey, Kingfishers are may favourite bird. Seeing their beautiful colours as the whizz up and down the river is one of the finest sights in British wildlife.
Sadly this year my local pair failed to rear any young for the first time in 7 years due to the unseasonably wet summer which caused the river dart to constantly flood their nesting tunnels. Fortunately the adult birds were able to survive with the river in spate for much of the summer and have been seen in the territory in recent weeks. Many kingfishers move downstream in winter to coastal areas where food can be easier to find, this pair however seem to be content using the many tributaries of the dart. I have been fortunate to have access to a superb piece of land that backs onto the river, with a large pond and a wildflower meadow. This is where I have been creating a kingfisher set up to photograph them away from the nest, which is also on this land. Unfortunately the set uhas been washed away three times this year when the river was in spate so I have been unable to photograph them very much this year.
Earlier this year I visited Mark Hancox’s fantastic kingfisher set up in worcestershire, where he has built a large comfortable hide on a small stream. Kingfishers visit the site frequently and during my time in the hide the resident male bird spent most of the day on the set up preening and occasionally fishing, although this was spaced out by hours of just being sat on a branch!
Being able to change the perches throughout the day enabled added some variety to the images, this is something I have been doing for some time on my private site in Devon. I am always amazed at how the kingfisher will happily perch on a huge variety of items with no hesitation or fuss, for example barbed wire…
Every now and then he would spot a minnow in the stream and immediately start head bobbing and shuffling along the perch to get into prime position from which to launch his dive. In the seconds before the dive he plus his feathers in tight to his body before falling from the perch into the icy waters.