A Morning Session With The Bee Eaters (and few others)

Yesterday whilst on a Community Walk as part of the local Village’s Celebration Day I noticed a colony of Bee Eaters all sitting on a dead tree on the river bank at the other side of the village to the Quinta. The weather forecast promised a clear sunrise so I packed the camera, tripod, chair and pop-up hide last night and set my alarm for 6:15am.

The idea was to get to the river bank and erect my pop-up hide before the Bee Eaters awoke. I was awake before the alarm and after a quick Coffee I headed down to the river bank by just after 6:30am. It was already light, but the sun was still below the horizon, the only birds I could hear were the Nightingales. I set up the hide and waited patiently.

First up a small flock of Common Waxbills arrived with 2 of them sitting on the dead tree, unfortunately, I couldn’t quite get a clean background and this would take a fair bit of Photoshop work to remove.

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Common Waxbill - Bico-de-lacre-comum - Estrilda astrild
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How I Built My Simple DIY Photography Hide

A few weeks ago, my pop-up hide that I placed at the Oasis got blown away by very strong winds during a storm. Luckily it got caught up on a fence about 50 meters away so I was able to recover it.

I didn’t put it back in place and decided that I would build a more permanent solution. Yesterday afternoon, I got to work on making a simple and cheap hide. All of the materials where left overs from the previous owners of our house, so actually cost nothing to make.

I used fence posts as the supports for the hide, using an old garden chair to gauge the size.

Fence Posts for Supports

Next I cut to size some pieces of timber to hold the structure together. These are also used to staple the outer material later.

Structure complete

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Is There More Than One Kingfisher At The River Pool?

I just happened to look at the image I captured on the Bushnell NatureView tonight and noticed something…….

Take a look at these 2 images, what do you see differently?

Same Bird?

Apart from the quality differences, there seems to be something very obvious, I don’t think they are the same Kingfisher.

The shot on the left from the Bushnell NatureView seems to clearly show a red lower beak whereas the shot on the right only has a slight colouring as I established this is a young female who’s beak is yet to turn red.

Kingfishers are very territorial so I suspect these photos are of mother and daughter. Only time will tell as I spend more time in the hide.

I’ll keep you updated.

Introducing The Oasis

No, it’s not a re-group of the 90s rock band but a section of our land behind the house that always seems to have water.

Water Trickle

We live on top of a hill, however, there always seems to be water on a section of the land behind the house, even in the hot, dry summer there is evidence of water. There are a few theories; Does our Water Cistern (we have a bore hole) leak? Does our Septic Tank release the clean water here? Does it take the water from the roof guttering here? Is there some strange water spring?

No matter how this water gets here, it creates a fantastic Oasis of wild plants. I’ve noticed that this time of year, the returning winter birds congregate for breakfast just after sunrise. Numerous Finches, Robins, Waxbill, Chiffchaff, Stonechat to name a few feast on the flower seeds and insects.

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Photos Of The Kingfisher At The River Pool

This morning, I was up at sunrise, drank a coffee, took the dog for a walk, had breakfast and then headed down to the Kingfisher Hide I built yesterday. Portuguese for Kingfisher is Guarda-rios, but translates to River Ranger/Guard.

I approached slowly and quietly and the perch was not empty, the Kingfisher was already there. I stopped, it stopped, we stared at each other for what felt like an hour but was probably more like 5 seconds before it flew away. I made sure that it had cleared the area totally before approaching the hide. I didn’t want to scare it away for good.

I squeezed into the hide and set myself up for a long wait. The long wait wasn’t needed, within about 5 minutes the Kingfisher was back but it looked a little confused, it knew something had changed and it flew to the next river pool about 25 metres away. I sat and watched it dive into the water catching small fish and eating them. At this moment, I really couldn’t care if it didn’t come to the perch, I was happy enough just sitting there watching it. However, soon enough it came back to the perch and didn’t seem bothered of my presence, although I was well hidden. It was a very still morning, not even a breeze so my next concern was the noise of the shutter, would it scare it. The D810 was in “quiet” mode which tries to limit the noise of the shutter, I fired off a shot, it didn’t disturb the bird at all.

I spent the next hour sat there watching it dive, sometimes successful, sometimes not. It did have a good feed. I waited until breakfast was over and it flew away before leaving. I was using my 300mm f/2.8 lens fitted with a 1.7 teleconverter as I still await the return of my 500mm f/4 from repair. I’m pretty happy with the quality of the shots considering, but looking forward to the return of my 500mm f/4. The only problem I see is getting into the hide with the size of the 500mm f/4. My next goal is to capture a usable shot of the Kingfisher with a fish in its mouth, I did get some, but not good enough.

At first, I thought this was a Male Kingfisher due to the lack of orange lower beak. However, on closer look, I think this is a juvenile Female as there is a little colour appearing underneath.

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Kingfisher - Guarda-rios

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