This diary documents my struggle to try and get some decent Kingfisher images. There are plenty of sites on the internet telling you about Kingfishers but when researching, I couldnt find anything about what was needed to catch them.
As well as recording a log here for myself, I hope this 'case study' of nailing Kingfishers can help someone further down the line doing some research...
Saturday 24th March 2018
A rare saturday off saw me go to Bradford-On-Avon after seeing some pictures from there of Kingfishers. Walked the length of the river then back up the canal and saw nothing - after 5 and a half hours I called it a day.
Monday 26th March 2018
After a rubbish day at work I needed to get out. I decided to give Bradford-On-Avon another go, I don't know why I was wasting my time but it was worth a go! On arriving both Kingfishers were together on a tree but flew off...I hung around the same area and was spoiled with a whole afternoon just 5 metres from the female fishing...
Thursday 29th March 2018
With my great success at Bradford-On-Avon the other day, I came back with a friend to see whether it was beginners luck or whether I'd cracked it. Sadly there was just too many dogs and kids...oh and a woman throwing sticks at the Kingfisher (not intensionally) so the only keepers I got were quite long distance shots.
Monday 2nd April 2018
Once i finished work I headed down to Bradford-On-Avon to see if I could improve on my recent bad luck. However the river was close to bursting and some bridges were submerged. The river was very fast and muddy. The Kingfisher pair took a couple hours to appear but just flew down the usual fishing area further down stream. I saw no more of them sadly. The area is just too busy with people too which puts the birds off...time to find somewhere quieter and closer to home.
Tuesday 3rd April 2018
Yet again after work I got out to look for Kingfishers, this time checking out the canal at Wootton Bassett. I had seen a lot of good photos here however there were nothing but Water Voles there. Apparently it turns out last years juveniles hung out there and have since moved on. During the winter months theres not enough fish there so go elsewhere, possibly to the stream to the south. I then went to a site nearer to home where I had a heads up there were a pair living there. On arriving I did indeed see the pair though flew off when they saw me. Time to buy a hide!
Thursday 5th April 2018
A stunning bright day meant I had to go look for the Kingfishers...I set my brand new pop up hide next to a bush they land in when they come out of their nest further down. I stupidly missed a close up shot of the male on the bush but it was still in the low sun's shadows. At 07:19 it landed across the river, not perfect but the wonderful sun made it easier to crop. I'm convinced it spotted me in the hide and it headed north and did not return so I left. Returned back in the evening and walked about a mile south of the nest and came across the male sat up in a tree, he flew off the second he saw me.
Thursday 12th April 2018
Finally the day came to use my new perch! But will he use it? 05:30 I arrived on scene and an hour later at 06:30 the sun climbed behind the tree behind me and sadly into cloud where it stayed. At 07:10 the male Kingy came round the corner from the nest and sat on a horizontal fallen tree trunk and looked at my perch. It then arched across the river and landed on my perch!! What a great feeling. It quickly became apparent it was a lot further away than I anticipated and the light didn't help. It was also a terrible grey water background. But I fired off some shots...me changing my position for a more comfortable place for my arm spooked him and he stopped eyeing up my fish in the tub, looked at me and flew away at speed....BUGGER!
Apart from grey Wagtail and a chaffinch visiting my perch no more Kingfisher action happened. At 07:20 it headed south then at 09:30 headed north where it didn't return. At 12:00 I bugged out and went to find it. I walked a good 3/4 of a mile past a weir and past loads of good areas but could not find him! Just vanished!
Saturday 14th April 2018
It was a baking hot day and I had finished work just after midday so thought I'd head up to the Kingfishers for a recce. As soon as I pulled up and started working the male flew past heading north. Knowing how long he can spend up there I wasn't prepared to hang round! Following my previous walk up the river I decided to drive round to the bottom of the valley and try and find where he goes! He literally vanishes once he goes round the corner!
I walked miles and couldn't see him anywhere! Surely there was no way he would fly 1.45 miles this way given that his territory is also south of the nest! I was just walking back to the car when the little *!#$&# flew right past heading back. So he DOES fish this far away. Kingfishers can fly around 30mph and 1.45 miles to get back home would give him around 7 minutes flying each way. And given that when the eggs hatch he needs to have a hunting location where he can travel to and back to feed the chicks within 15 minutes I can't see how he can use this!! No pictures but a big eye opener and whilst I haven't pin pointed out his location I need to find a nearer location where he fishes as this will be too far when the little ones are here.
Tuesday 17th April 2018
Just a quick morning visit with the girlfriend to re-position the perch to give a better background and to set the fish trap up. No Kingfishers seen but we were only there for 30 minutes!
Wednesday 18th April 2018
I arrived at 05:30 under the cover of darkness and set up my hide overlooking my perch. I pulled my fishing net out the river to reveal 5 minnows in there - happy days! I set them up in the tub and took my position in the hide. The sunrise at 06:20 didn't help much with light, it was a very dark and dull day. At 06:43 the male Kingy came swinging round the corner from the nest and landed straight on my perch. This time chilled out and sat there cleaning himself for a couple of minutes. He took a look in the river for fish and can't have liked what he saw as he then flew off. Didn't even look at the fish in my tub. I think it's time to abandon that idea.
At 07:00 it headed north and returned at 11:55 going straight past the nest and heading south. It then quickly visited the nest at 13:10, 13:44, 1403 and 1432 too quick to see what he did or where he came from. Possibly just passing a fish to the nesting female though I still haven't heard anything from her. I'm hoping she is ok and just incubating the eggs!
Monday 23th April 2018
Headed up to the river today to check if anything had changed regarding the incubated eggs and to also install my new perch. I wanted it as horizontal as possible and due to how long it was I had to get a metal fence stake to hammer into the ground for stability. However, it looks pretty good, natural and in a great calm place to spot fish easily. Heres a test shot to see if the background was better than my first perch. Finally have the pleasant green blurred background and a nicely weathered, natural perch.
Tuesday 24th April 2018
With today being the last day of my 3 day estimate of the eggs hatching, I arrived at the river at 05:15 and headed to the suspected fishing location. Despite still being dark, just as I arrived at my spot at 05:30 the Male Kingfisher flew past heading south from the nest. The good point was that it had to come past my new perch to get back to the nest but the bad point was that it's out fishing already and i'm still not set up!! Sunrise was at 05:51 and it was cloudy but surprisingly bright.
At 06:41 the Male Kingfisher returned back to the nest from the south without stopping. Rather confusingly at 06:46 I had another pass from the south again heading back to the nest. Just 3 minutes later at 06:49 it returned to the south of my position - already looking like a busy start! I was then even more confused when a Kingfisher arrived from the nest direction and landed on reeds just behind my new perch...typical! But at 06:49 for the first time since 3rd April, the female Kingfisher flew to the south calling the male as it went past. The male looked, called back and dived into the river going for a fish. Rather than landing back on the reeds or my perch it flew to a tree to my right...the side I had no window or door to see out of! For the female to finally leave the nest after a month and within my estimated hatching period, I'm assuming they have indeed hatched and they will be busy all day fishing! Result!
At 06:53 the male flew to the nest. 07:37 saw the female Kingfisher fly back to the nest from the south. Confusing me yet again, that was the last time I saw the female today...making me wander if the eggs hatched after all?
The male again departed the nest and flew to the south at 07:52...he then disapered until 11:31 when he returned back to the nest. I noticed during my last day off there last week, the male left at 07:00 and didn't return until 11:55 - roughly the same sort of time periods. Something to keep an eye on during future visits.
At 11:50 FINALLY the male arrived at my suspected fishing location (having already caught that fish at the start of the day there) and landed on that tree to my right again that I can't see! I couldn't get out of the hide without making a racket so decided to wait and hope it would move to my new perch. I counted 6 splashes before it flew to the south at 12:00 to fish elsewhere. With camo netting on the way from Ebay, this shouldn't happen again. I'll be able to twist and move easier and won't have any blind spot. The good thing was that it confirmed it really is a good fishing location, having collected 7 fish in front of me. At 13:19 it returned from the south back to the nest. Once again, looking at last weeks log, it headed off at 11:55 returning at 13:10....same rough timings yet again. The rain then came in and looking at my rain app on my phone there was worse to come and my flimsy pop-up hide was taking a beating from the increasing wind so I decided to endex and head home.
Despite not getting anything decent, I did get a pic of the male on the reeds beyond my new perch. It was a blank again but reasonably happy knowing the female is safe and the fishing location has been confirmed. Slowly, I'm getting there.
Thursday 26th April 2018
After missing out on some shots a couple days ago due to my pop-up hide having a blind spot, I decided to buy a camo net which I can put over the top of me giving me 180 degrees viewing rather than straight ahead through a window...
So after work I nipped out for a few hours to give it a go. Initially, having the net over me whilst in the seat wasnt working...too many things for the net to catch on and felt quite limited in moving about. I decided to forget to the seat and lie down in a perfectly shaped hole in the ground which cradled me nicely - the net went nicely over the top and out the way over the wind...perfect!
So I rocked up at 16:30 and there was no sign of the Kingys north of the nest, the nest itself or further south at the fishing site. At 17:40 the silence was finally broken by the call of a Kingfisher. What sounded like landing in trees just to my left at the hunting site. I don't know whether I scared it trying to look but it flew off round the back of me across the field cutting the corner off the river and headed south...
It returned at 18:12 and yet again cut the corner off, going behind me. The farmer had a small bonfire nearby so it could have been that or I may have disturbed it but with no sign of it coming back I called it a day...
Still doesn't appear to be any sign of eggs hatching.
Monday 30th April 2018
Headed up to the river for a few hours after work today to evaluate locations to reposition the new perch. Despite the Kingfisher fishing either side of it, there doesn't seem to be much fish underneath it, the water seems quite deep and therefore not likely to have many minnows/sticklebacks that hang around in shallow water. The current location is also not in the line of the river but off to one side so when the Kingfisher flies down the river the perch doesn't catch it's eye.
The new place to move the perch will be just beyond where the bird is in the picture above. It features shallow water and is directly opposite the location I keep seeing it fly away from. Several other birds look for fish here too and there are constant splashes from fish....it's promising.
Thursday 3rd May 2018
With the perch positioned in a much better place and a day of full sunshine forecast, there was no reason not to have a good day today (finally!).
I arrived on scene at 05:00 and began setting up my hide. At 05:15 a Kingfisher flew from the nest area down south of the river...I was ffairly sure he/she hadn't seen me as I was bent over setting up the hide and it didn't change direction or panic. Sunrise was at 05:34 and it turned into a lovely day. Just two minutes later at 05:34 the Kingfisher call sounded across the river and heard the bird come from the south and seem to hang round the fishing area opposite side of the river from my position....perfect! I seemed to keep hearing it then go quiet....by 08:26 I was still hearing it surely not after all this time! By 09:25 I decided to come out of the hide for a look.....nothing around! If that call had been another bird then the Kingy hadn't been around my area since half 5! I had never known them to be so quiet. I then read an email about a rare steam train through Bradford on avon at midday and coincidently theres Kingfishers there so decided to to leave for that!
On the walk back to the car I was just approaching the last corner before the nest, when at 09:46 I heard the Kingfisher come from the nest and head south right past me...I had disturbed it and it was heading towards my new perch. Typical!
So having returned from Bradford on Avon I decided to return to the river, coming on scene at 14:00...I left at 15:30 and saw nothing and heard nothing. Earlier in the day I had attached 5 small white-bait fish to the perch which were all there still. A disaster of a day.
Thursday 10th May 2018
After a much needed break from the river, I headed up to see what was new in 1 week. I walked from the nest and headed 1 mile south. No sign what so ever of the Kingfishers but I was sure I heard one down the bottom of the river by the weir.
To my shock, perch #1 was lying on the ground...unsure if it was pulled out or fell but I repositioned it over a corner with more fish. I also found a flat platform amongst the nettles even closer to this perch than my original position - almost half the distance. It may be worth another shot with this perch?! A further walk round to the new perch (#2) and thankfully it was still there. I had left 5 fish attached to it. 1 had gone which was the one at the top - I'd like to think a Kingfisher took it - cant think what else would have?! I done some weeding around Perch #2 to improve the background of the shot and went home after 2 hours.
Sunday 13th May 2018
A walk along the river today produced nothing. Walked another mile further south than I had before and still no sign of the male.
Monday 14th May 2018
Arrived at the river for 05:00 at perch #1 with 5 fish on top of the perch. It was relieving to hear the sound of a Kingy at 05:15 around the nest area, confirming they are safe. After seeing Otters recently, I had been worried. It flew to the north at 05:18 beofore flying south at 05:21. It reappeared again at 06:00 and sat in the tree opposite the nest for 5 minutes calling and then flew south. 06:20 saw it return to the nest and 3 minutes later heading north. At 06:29 it flew from the north straight down south of the nest...having other things to do today I then decided to pack up. I had just started to walk back to the car at 07:30 when all hell broke loose!
The sky suddenly came alive with Kingfishers everywhere! I swear I could count 3 but they were zipping around chasing each other so fast it was impossible to count. I had managed a couple record shots and all seemed male - so i'm worried now that my pair have been invaded! At 08:20 I had to leave and they were still going at...2 chased each other down south of the nest towards perch #2. As I was walking back to the car north of the nest another flew past.....same one or another?! So so confusing....
I returned later in the day, starting at the southern end of the river and reaching the nest area at 15:30. It wasn't long before my worries of how the male Kingy was after the intruder was put to rest - at 15:59 he flew from the north, sat on the tree above perch #1 and immediatley flew to the south of the nest. At 16:04 he came back up and sat on the corner just after the nest before flying to the nest area. He flew back south at 16:19 before returning at 16:27, however due to dogs at the nest flew off north. Half an hour went by and thought he may stay up there a while after the dogs scared him so I started the 20 minute walk back to the car....about half way at 17:04 I was over taken by the male Kingfisher heading south....I tried following for a good half a mile further with no sign of him. Further down is private fishing land so I guess he fishes there...
Anyway here are some pics of the intruder fight...