Kingfishers, a bit like buses

You wait two years for a decent opportunity to capture a kingfisher and then just when you are ready to pay for a Kingfisher experience day 4 come along in the same week. Last week I was in Denver Colorado for work, I was lucky enough to use the jet lag to my advantage and get up early on the Wednesday morning to visit the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Nature Preserve. I’ll save the full story for another post but suffice to say the 1st bird of significance I saw whilst touring the preserve was a North American kingfisher.

Not a national geographic shot, but in my mind any shot of a kingfisher is a winner.

North American Kingfisher

Nikon D500, Nikon 300mm F4 PF + TC-17E II at 500mm (750mm equiv.) – F8, ISO 1600, 1/60 sec.

Now I do see the occasional kingfisher back home in the UK, rarely do they stay still long enough for me to photograph them and it would appear that only on the rarest of ocassions do they perch close enough to get more than 50 pixels of kingfisher in shot.

Today was a special day, on my ride in to work I stopped by the lake. The same lake I have stopped by 2 or 3 mornings a week since January. Why you may ask? The thing is last year I kept seeing a kingfisher at this lake and I was very keen to photograph him. Well the minute I put a temporary hide in place he disappeared. That is until this morning. The image below is a heavy crop taken from about 20 metres away. He did fly straight towards me at one point but this was the closest point at which he was comfortable fishing with me around.

European Kingfisher

Nikon D500, Nikon 300mm F4 PF + TC-17E II at 500mm (750mm equiv.) – F8, ISO 1600, 1/200 sec.

Then imagine my surprise when on my way home I stopped at another lake, one I had identified as prime kingfisher habitat. As I was chatting to a fisherman I spotted 2 kingfishers chasing each other on the opposite side of the lake. I headed over in the direction they had gone and was rewarded with another distant shot.

European Kingfisher

Nikon D500, Nikon 300mm F4 PF + TC-17E II at 500mm (750mm equiv.) – F8, ISO 1600, 1/160 sec.

Why so many Kingfishers? I have a theory, during the summer I think they spend their time much closer to the nest. Late summer the new chicks fledge and start looking for their own territories, at the same time the adult birds start frequenting some of their old haunts again. Some come August there are loads more Kingfishers around. Fingers crossed plenty survive as watching them fish is a true privilege.

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