The elusive Kingfisher

I’ve been hanging round the local wildfowl reserve again. Having dragged my husband there for an afternoon while he was off work the other week, I also spent another day that week in one of the hides. It hadn’t been a good time for us, with one of our dear little ferrets having been diagnosed with cancer just two weeks previously. It was clear he wouldn’t be with us for much longer and I was grateful to have the chance to get out and clear my head a little. The reserve was the perfect place.

I had read of a kingfisher sighting in one particular hide the previous day (the reserve keeps a log book on display), so I set off with the idea to spend the entire day there. Other people came and went – parents with children still on holiday from school, retired couples, twitchers with binoculars and photographers, but I stayed put. It would be nice to say I sat in comfort while I waited, but the openings had obviously been designed by a male and a tall one at that. If I wanted to keep my eyes on the twig in the lake, I would have to stand. Not just standing of course, but holding the camera with my new 300mm zoom lens and it would be fair to say that I spent the most uncomfortable five hours of my entire life.

I did have some company though as a lovely gentleman who arrived not long after me, stayed until after I eventually left. Like me, he was also fairly new to bird photography and the reserve and we chatted quietly until he spotted a pair of kingfishers on the other side of the lake. Things were looking up. I had already set the focus on the twig where I hoped one of the birds might land and to my delight, about half an hour later, one did just that. I could see him clearly through my viewfinder and hardly able to contain my excitement, I pressed the shutter. For the lens to decide it needed to re-focus, at which point the bird flew away.

I said a rude word and then hastily apologised to my friend. He laughed and told me a story of the previous week when he was in the same hide and a chap got so excited, he yelled “Kingfisher”, leapt up, dropped his camera (breaking the lens) and then fell backwards over the bench. I had to smile. We had many more sightings of the pair that afternoon, but they didn’t venture anywhere near the twig again. I may go back next week, but I’m taking a cushion, a bean bag for the lens and the autofocus is going to be turned off.

I did get lucky with something though, as later in the afternoon a dragonfly started flitting about just in front of the hide. It was incredibly difficult and took many attempts, but I eventually got a shot of him mid-flight.

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