Saturday, 12 June 2010

Young Kingfishers

There hasn't been much to see at Bretton lately so instead of going to the hide I decided to setup at the side of the lake. I've long suspected that Kingfishers use this area but previous visits have all proved fruitless.

After half an hour it looked like today was going to turn out the same, until this one turned up.

The white tip to the beak shows that it's a young bird apparently.

It wasn't long before another one appeared and they decided to sit together. A sibling perhaps?

Suddenly one of them dived under the water and emerged with what looked like a Stickleback. I remember these prickly fish from my younger days when we used to catch them in the local park lake. I wouldn't like to have to swallow one though!

Before swallowing the unlucky fish it flew back to where it had left its sibling. In the twenty or so seconds since it left the perch another two, presumably from the same nest, had arrived.

And there they sat for quite some time until finally dispersing to do a bit more fishing.

I never knew Kingfishers ate Tadpoles...

...or insects!

It was really good to see this young family who were all finding food without their parents, whom there was no sign of. Although I thought I counted five of them at one stage so mum or dad might have been around. They stuck around for about forty minutes, which was great to watch but I got a bit trigger-happy with the camera and ended up with over six-hundred shots! Still, its not everyday you get to see one of these birds, never mind four of them.


  1. What beautiful photos! I'd like to *see* a Kingfisher, never mine photograph one! :)

  2. What a fabulous treat. Super series of images..FAB.

  3. Oh my goodness! I'm so glad I didn't miss this post! And I have to tell you that I am so, so jealous!!! If I could only find a way to get close to our Belted Kingfishers! I was blown away that you got FOUR in one shot! And the picture of the one with the tadpole is absolutely STUNNING! It seems to exude the little fella's personality and the feathers on the head are just beautiful! I LOVE these pictures! I recently watched a flicker nest for over 60 days. The young birds had two egg teeth (one at the tip of the upper and lower beak) When I watched I could see them glow in the dark inside the nest hole. I later read that recent study has shown that this other use for the egg teeth help the parent birds find the youngsters in the darkness of the nest holes. I wonder if kingfishers might be the same?
    Wonderful post and I don't blame you for taking over 600 pictures - what an opportunity!!!

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone.

    BG - interesting explanation regarding the white tips on the beaks.

    Hope you get close to the Belted Kingfishers soon. I find the best way is to sit still and wait and let them come to you. No camo needed - I was sat completely in the open for these!

  5. Thanks for the tip. It seems the kingfishers here frequent the edges of the creeks and they are difficult because there are always steep banks and lots of brush where snakes, poison ivy, etc. can hide. Are your kingfishers in this type of scenario? I do think seeing the youngsters without the parents around is always a better chance for pictures ;-) Your pictures just blow me away!!!
    Here is my post about the young flicker beaks and a link to the recently published study.

  6. They really do glow in the dark don't they? They look like a pair of runway lights to guide in the food! Great shots by the way.

    The banks of the top lake at Bretton, where all my Kingfisher shots are taken, are only accessible in front of the hide and the small inlet where those youngsters were fishing. In this area there are a few fallen trees which provide many natural perches.

    I installed my own perch in front of the hide. This was made from part of a fallen branch set into a bucket of concrete. (We don't have snakes to worry about though!) You can see this in an earlier post -

    If you could manage to rig something up on the banks of your creek (or better still persuade some bloke to do it for you ;-) ) then I'm sure the Kingfishers would give it a try.

  7. What a neat set up you have there! I probably could talk my hubby into some kind of a snag ( I need to work on that ;-)
    Are you familiar with this fellow's work? Check out his blog and in particular his set up for kingfishers. It is very cool, indeed!

    Your kingfisher is so gorgeous compared to our belted kingfisher. The colors are amazing - I noticed that in picture #3 the little fish color coordinates with the bird - you could not have PICKED a better subject and pose - WOW! I loved seeing your other post as well!

  8. That's the first time I've seen anyone use paddling pools before!

    The guy has some interesting ideas doesn't he? If we had anything approaching the variety of birds that you get I might try it.

    Glad you like the other Kingfisher shots. Once you manage to get one of these birds to come close, the rest is very easy. They adopt many positions and usually hold the pose long enough to get shots at the lowest of shutter speeds. A very obliging bird - once you get in to land near!

  9. Yes, he does have interesting ideas. I'd like to buy his CD on photographing songbirds. Here is an interview that you might be interested in reading. Hope I'm not driving you nuts - I tend to get excited about great bird photos ;-)

    I'm holding up your kingfisher shots in my mind as the ones to strive for ;-) Getting close is the key. Thanks so much for your input!