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New Location At The River

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Yesterday I installed yet another perch for the Kingfishers to use. The river pools are getting smaller by what seems like every minute and although it results in the Kingfishers being more concentrated on certain areas, it means I have less good angles to shoot with.

This mornings task was to photograph a Kingfisher just coming into land on the perch with outstretched wings. Everything was going to plan until I broke my number one rule of “Focus on what you are trying to get and don’t be distracted!”.

The camera was setup, pointed at the perch, I had pre-focused, AF settings and fast shutter speed all dialled in. All I had to do was wait for a Kingfisher to fly to the perch. Although there were many visits to the perch all of them approached from in front rather than behind, then one of the young females landed high in a branch of a tree behind the perch. She dived into the water and retreated to another branch directly behind the perch. I wanted to look to see if she had caught a fish and moved the camera and focused on her, she flew right at the perch and I didn’t get the camera moved back in time. Yes, I am kicking myself! This was the last time I saw her this morning as she had already caught two large Louisiana Crayfish.

I did get some portrait shots of her on the perch earlier.

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Common Kingfisher (Juvenile Female) - Guarda-rios (juvenil femea) - Alcedo atthis
📷 Nikon D850, AF-S 500mm f/4 @ 1/800sec, f/11, ISO640
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Southwestern Water Vole

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I was in the Kingfisher hide this morning but they just didn’t come to the perch, everywhere else but the perch. However, in the distance I saw some movement. Looking through the viewfinder I spotted either a Brown Rat or a Southern Water Vole. I magnified on the live view and could see it was indeed a Southwestern Water Vole.

Also known as a Southern Water Vole, it is a slightly different species to the European Water Vole found in other regions of Europe. This large semi-aquatic rodent can reach sizes of between 16 and 23cm long, not including the tail which is a further 3/4 of the length of the body. They are often seen in the daytime, mainly during the later morning and early evening. This is the 2nd time I have seen it at this time of day so will be looking to get closer!

Allegedly, it was originally one of the main ingredients of the Spanish Paella! It’s great to see one as they are in decline and are classified as “Vulnerable” on the ICN Red List.

I quickly popped on the 1.4x teleconverter, but even at 700mm, it was still a long way away for a decent shot. However, here it is eating fresh bamboo growth for its breakfast. More info and identification guide after the photo.

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Southwestern Water Vole - Rato-de-água - Arvicola sapidus
📷 Nikon D850, AF-S 500mm f/4 with Nikon TC14E III 1.4x Teleconverter (giving 700mm) @ 1/800sec, f/5.6, ISO1400Continue reading >>

A Morning With A Young Female……….

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…….Common Kingfisher!

Finally, I wake at sunrise and the skies are clear! It’s been a strange summer so far with very cloudy mornings. I grab a coffee and head down to the river. As soon as I step inside the hide, it clouds over………. AGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

I wait it out and it improved slightly but not enough to have a fast enough shutter speed with a low enough ISO for flight shots, so I settled for some portraits of the beautiful juvenile female.

A female Common Kingfisher has a red lower beak which gradually turns red (the male stays black), this girl is half way there. Her feet are still a little dark, they also start black and turn red, as do the male.

You’ll notice that she doesn’t appear to “glow” in this picture. The blue/green feathers on a Common Kingfisher contain no pigment and are not actually green or blue. They are transparent and the colour you see is the light rays passing through the transparent feathers. Therefore, when the light isn’t too great, nor are the colours.

I have many more shots from this session which will come over the next couple of days, and of course, I’ll be back for some flight shots too. Incidentally, the clouds cleared too soon after! It’s amazing to have so many Kingfishers so close to the house and it was great to sit and watch this girl diving from various spots along the river bank. Sometimes, failed, sometimes successful. I even saw her catch a fish and then drop it back in the water when she tried to eat it.

This photo along with my other recent photos will be available to purchase in print soon.

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Common Kingfisher (Juvenile Female) - Guarda-rios (juvenil femea) - Alcedo atthis
📷 Nikon D850, AF-S 500mm f/4 @ 1/500sec, f/8, ISO900Continue reading >>

Another Shot From The “Dark Perch”

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Just another shot of the juvenile male Common Kingfisher from a few days ago at my “Dark Perch“. This time he’s got his back facing me showing off his typical “go-faster stripe.”

I have a new location ready to go, clouds depending, I’ll be there in the morning, not sure how they’ll react to this one as I have to use my pop-up hide and not sure if they will be happy around it.

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Common Kingfisher (Juvenile Male) - Guarda-rios (juvenil macho) - Alcedo atthis
📷 Nikon D850, AF-S 500mm f/4 @ 1/640sec, f/11, ISO450Continue reading >>

Young Kingfishers Are Now Out Of The Nests

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It’s taken a long-time this year to get these particular shots of the Kingfishers which started many months ago, originally with the adults.

I have been trying to get very dark backgrounds to create an almost studio-like image. I appreciate that these style of photographs are not to everyone’s taste, but the idea was to create a contrast to bring out the detail in the feathers.

The problem I have had this year is that every time I set the scene, the river has dried out before I manage to capture any shots. However, I found an area where the river has pooled and it seems to be a popular dive spot. This scene has been set for 3 days, however, every morning since has been cloudy. I was awake at 6am this morning and again, the skies were unseasonably cloudy. Slightly later, there seemed be a large gap in the cloud cover so I headed down to the river and got lucky before the cloud re-appeared.

There was a pair of juveniles at the spot, unfortunately, the female didn’t come out into the light, but the male was very happy on the perch. The light still wasn’t great, but good enough even though I was shooting with a slightly slower shutter speed to what I was hoping for. Luckily, he stayed still enough for long enough!

The big giveaway that this is a young male is the legs, you’ll notice that they are not bright coloured, adult Kingfishers have very bright coloured legs.

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Common Kingfisher (Juvenile Male) - Guarda-rios (juvenil macho) - Alcedo atthis
📷 Nikon D850, AF-S 500mm f/4 @ 1/640sec, f/8, ISO500Continue reading >>


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