I’ve been making images of Kingfishers since 2008. I cannot begin to reconcile how many hours I have spent idling along a river in a boat or stood motionless in a spot where I knew of their whereabouts often as not freezing to the core or braced against a stiff breeze. Not once in countless hundreds of images made have I ever caught a bird in the act of entering the water , stunning the fish and swallowing it. That is, in part until today.
The weather has been shite of late, and as grim as any November day but here we are just into September. The forecast this morning was for some brightness to start with but rather too breezy for the Ebony to make an outing so I thought I’d try out back button focusing on the big Nikon with a big lens. I skulked and hunkered down on the boat launching slip at Cattawade about an hour after sunrise. Boy was I glad to be on the creek side with the wind blowing down my chuff. This position gives me a commanding view of the favoured perches and flight paths of the Cattawade male and sure enough it was not long before he screeched low and fast over the bare mud towards the main sluice that almost acts as a hanger for him.
The first time I saw this bird he rested on the starboard-hand scaffold pipe guard rail, but behind the galvanised mesh that prevented an image being made. Today, he made his way in and a few minutes later rather than screech out calling his patrol call, he landed on the starboard-hand rail with a fish that he spent a tad longer than I would normally expect, stunning it and moving it head first into his gullet. I wonder if he was making a show especially for me? The bird was 65 feet away.
I use no trickery or baits or fish tanks that some people do, I use no props unless you call my monopod a prop. Rather, I use endurance and this time, endurance has paid off. Obviously I’d like to capture a bird entering the water and coming out with a fish, but it has taken nine years just to get this far so I expect I’ll be standing, squatting and kneeling in weird places for a while to come.
I’m chuffed to bits with the experiment though. VR turned off and back button focussing. It does seem to work for me.