So… I finally got some photographs of kingfishers. It was actually easier than I thought, but I still managed to make the process harder than it should have been.
The gentleman that I met at my local reserve the other week had told me about a pair of nesting birds at Wakehurst Place. It’s a 50 minute drive from home, but seemed well worth it. Having read as much as I could find on the internet, I knew I had to check in at the visitor centre and ask for a pass for the Loder Valley Nature Reserve. Only fifty passes are issued daily and you can’t book in advance. My understanding is that entry is normally via the gardens for which there is a charge, but as it is a very long walk, I asked for directions to the back entrance, which also happens to be free.
I won’t give details here, but the directions I was given seemed clear enough. Not clear enough for me though and I mistook a place to see “en route” as instructions for parking. That little error cost me nearly two hours of fruitless searching. I asked a passing jogger and then a dog walker, who thought the reserve was a long way down a very steep hill. That didn’t sound too encouraging for the return walk, but I carried on regardless. I even phoned my husband to see if he could work out the locations on Google maps. Eventually I got lost on a farm, but managed to attract the attention of the farmer in his tractor. Thankfully he knew exactly where the kingfisher hide was and I needed to go all the way back to my car and drive further down the lane.
So nearly two hours after collecting my pass, I finally arrived at the lay-by for the back entrance. Less than five minutes later I was in the hide. Yes, it really should have been that easy. This time I struck lucky as a very knowledgeable couple arrived just before me and had spotted the birds as they flew from one tree to another. I found it hard to follow them at first, but the couple persisted with their help and I eventually saw the one in the image featured above through a nearby silver birch. The leaves have created an impressionist effect, but I still love it.
Just a few minutes later, the birds disappeared and as the couple also made their exit, they told me the kingfishers would be gone for the next hour. And they turned out to be spot on. I remained in the hide for the next four hours and had another four sightings. Sadly the drizzle that began as I arrived, turned into torrential rain which didn’t give up until long after I arrived home. I hadn’t taken a coat with me that day and I shivered for most of the time I was there. It was well worth it though, as shortly before I left I was able to get one more photograph. The quality isn’t great as the light was so bad, but I don’t care. This is a place I will keep returning to and hopefully I will learn more about these stunning little birds.