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Scratching That Kingfisher Itch

Anyone who knows me will be well aware of my attempts to get some decent kingfisher shots. I even wrote a book about it, and it definitely became an obsession. Seeing my first kingfisher made me get me camera out, get out of the house and infected me with the photography bug.

I've spent a lot of time on the river earlier this year spotting not one but two kingfisher nests which I carefully avoided, observing their antics from a distance and refraining from taking pictures. They seemed to take it in turn incubating with the other returning with fish before the nesting bird flew from the nest hole and splashed straight into the river a couple of times like a skimmed stone. Apparently this is to cool down or to dislodge any fleas or insects which may have jumped aboard. Once the chicks had hatched the feeding procession began with an endless stream of small fish being presented headfirst as the parents flew in and out of the nest. I missed the first brood of two fledging but saw them regularly flying up and down the river with one of the parents learning to fish and understanding the river.

The second nest was higher upstream and I spotted it some weeks after the first nest fledged. It may be the same pair with a second brood or another pair I hadn't noticed. Again I missed them fledge but hopefully it will mean plenty of kingfishers up and down the river when they finally set off for their own patch. I did get some pictures but always distant, behind a branch or just as they left. One day I'll find their fishing posts and set up camp.

On a visit to Adel Dam a small nature reserve on the outskirts of Leeds I finally managed to get my best shots yet of kingfishers when a couple of juveniles began visiting the small pond near one of the hides. On one occasion the adult male and two juveniles were all sat at the same time, unfortunately all on separate perches! Firing off about 200 shots convinced I'd got some winners I headed for home and was pretty disappointed. My inability to get the settings right resulted in very few decent shots. So at 5am the next morning I went back and finally I think I nailed my best kingfisher shots to date.

Have I finally scratched that itch? Of course not, now I want diving shots, flying shots and beaks full of fish!

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