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My Kingfisher Project (including tips)

When I started wildlife photography I always wanted to capture a kingfisher. I saw them all over Instagram and was always envious. This set me on my journey to get my own shots (p.s. It didn't happen quickly).


Tip #1. Finding your kingfisher: Listen for its distinctive high pitch call. Use YouTube to get an idea of the call (this is the one I use: https://youtu.be/yLMSOwEFPps).


My searching only really began once I got my Canon gear, which was around 2 years ago. I had no idea where to start, only going off online spotting sites and where my Dad had seen them in the past. I went on a lot of walks searching local rivers and ponds - sometimes seeing the famous blue and orange streaks zooming low along the water. By the time I would spot it, it was too late. This was my first image, maybe a year after the start of my search:


Not ideal right?


Tip #2. Finding your kingfisher: Ask fishermen if they've seen one and where. They spend so much time by the water that they are sometimes the best source of knowledge.


Tip #3. Finding your kingfisher: It may seem obvious but check out every location. Rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. They cover 1km of water which is a vast area. When rivers rise they will prefer lakes, ponds and smaller streams.


I spent a lot of time over the first lockdown searching a local river which I had heard kingfishers frequented and over the few weeks I saw it a couple of times. After many failed attempts my search went on to the back burner. Motivation was at an all time low. A few months later, my Dad saw a kingfisher sitting on top of a perch along one of our local walks. As soon as we had some good weather we sat out by the river and waited. A few hours in, when our hope was waning, I saw a hovering bird just down the river. I couldn't believe my eyes. This was the image I managed to capture:



Tip #4. Photographing your kingfisher: Use silent shutter to ensure the bird doesn't get spooked. This won't apply to all, but mine would fly off as soon as I pressed the shutter, so by keeping as quiet as possible you have the best chance to see it relaxed in its environment.


This reignited my dream to find my local kingfisher. I spent a few days waiting in the spot I captured my previous shot. It finally came and landed on the top of the perch, allowing me to capture these shots:







Unfortunately this location was short lived as Autumn set in and the river got a lot faster and higher. This seemed to put off my little blue bird. I was back to searching again. I got a tip off that one frequented a pond nearby my spot. I didn't wait around, the next day I went to check out the location. After asking a fisherman, I felt like I was closing in. I set up my hide and managed to spot it twice. After a lot of work I tracked down its general route and timings. I picked a spot and set up my perch and waited in hope. The hard work paid off and these are my latest shots:




Tip #5. Photographing your kingfisher: Learn it's routes, patterns and behaviours. This is something I still have to do a lot of but I figured out it travelled along a stream before it visited the pond. So I was able to prepare my shot based on this knowledge.


Tip #6. Photographing your kingfisher: Once you have tracked down your kingfisher, one of the best tips is to make your own perch. They can't resist checking new ones out. To ensure it is new each time, I made one that I can move around and also attach different branches on to. Try to place it by areas of slow moving water, where the fish will gather. This is mine:



My journey to capture kingfishers is far from over. I still have lots to learn and many more images to capture. I hope you have enjoyed reading this and maybe you've learned something too.

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