August 2016 - Warrens

Saturday 20th August 2016

Early bird catches the worm ...

After my visits during the weekday evenings, I was quite looking forward to visiting the hide this morning for what will be be my first proper visit to the stream for a while. I am here early for sunrise, the forecast for late morning is not very good so I have come to the stream to catch the early morning sunlight.

I quickly set up in the hide and sat back in the darkness of cover and waited for my first visit. It wasn't long, within twenty minutes the familiar shape of a Kingfisher flew round the bend of the stream and perched in front of the hide. 

The early sunlight hitting the banks of the stream with a warm golden glow, the Kingfisher sitting silhouetted by the lack of sunlight yet to reach this part of the water. The Kingfisher sits motionless for 40 minutes, giving the impression he is watching the sunrise on the stream also.

The sun is up, but already clouds are moving in. The Kingfisher switches perches and it now sitting directly in front of me in the classic Kingfisher side profile which I never get bored in watching.

The Kingfisher perches on a small twig, the wind has picked up substantially and I can see he is being buffeted from all angles and is struggling to hold onto his flimsy choice of perch.

I knew as soon as the wind gave him a brief window of opportunity that he would dive. It wasn't long before I heard the thud of the Kingfisher hitting the water below me.

I could see the Kingfisher fighting to break free of the surface of the water of the stream, the quality of light at this level unfortunately makes for poor quality images. 

He returns to a lower perch complete with his breakfast in his beak, holding it up like he is showing off his catch like a trophy to the camera.

It is soon despatched and swallowed head first into his gullet.

Normally this would be a busy time of year on the stream, but for our local stream, everything is rather sedate. The lone male Kingfisher seems to have his patch undisputed by any other encroaching kingfishers, and seems to be making the most of the calm atmosphere.

The male is quite content to sit for long periods of time doing absolutely nothing, other than watching the stream meandering below him.

He flies off from time to time to patrol his territory, sometimes disappearing for an hour before returning to his favoured perch to either continue hunting or to preen his feathers.

The sun makes brief appearances between the heavy cloud cover, flooding the stream with beautiful light that illuminates the Kingfishers plumage to his full potential. The electric blue feathers almost sparkle as if encrusted with tiny sapphires. 

The decision to move the hide down stream has been a good decision. The Kingfisher remains hunting in front of the hide for the majority of the morning, catching several fish.

We are back to a similar position as we were last year, waiting for a female to be introduced onto his territory.

After 4 hours at the stream i decide to pack up. The wind is strong and the light has faded due to the heavy grey clouds gathering above. The Kingfisher remains fishing as I exit from the rear of the hide and make my way home.

Tuesday 16th August 2016

A summer of discontent ...

I am not quite sure where this summer has gone , but it is going past at an alarming speed. Maybe that's a sign of me getting old, I am not sure, but for the Kingfishers on my local stream, activity has been disappointing this summer.

July was slow, with no mating pair on my patch, and one single male who started to make less and less of a regular appearance, the visits to the hide started to become laborious. From what would be normally frequent, to almost constant Kingfisher action, somehow become the occasional fly past, maybe over a period of several hours.

The dynamics of the stream had clearly changed and I found myself struggling to maintain interest. I visited friends in Brazil for the next two weeks and came back to find the situation was still the same. In fact, it had deteriorated with the first two weeks of August providing no sight of a single Kingfisher at all.

With the kind permission of the owner of the land I am using, I decided to relocate and start again. I have moved downstream closer to an alternative territory patch where I believe I will be more successful. The plus and minus of this is that the area is within a woodland section of the stream, so it's dark, and for the majority of the day sunlight struggles to pierce the trees in full leaf,  not ideal for photography. However,  the backdrop is vibrant and with time, I am hoping this patch will become regularly visited once again.

I have been to the stream every evening this week, the weather has been warm and sunny so it has been relaxing to sit by the stream and just watch. Yesterday was my first visit I had seen of a Kingfisher to the hide, it was a young male, a fledgeling from this Spring and it was great to see him.

This evening I returned with my camera and sat and waited.

It was almost 7.30 PM before he arrived. A ray of sunlight from the sun, already sinking fast, managed somehow to pierce through the trees and shine directly onto the Kingfisher. He seemed quite relaxed, I took a few tentative shots of him with the camera to see how he would react to the shutter noise, but after a few wary glances he took little notice of me.

With the light fading he turned his attention to hunting, his concentrated glare focusing on the water below him, his stance coiled like a spring ready to strike at lightening quick pace at the first opportunity of a target coming into his sight.

Within a few minutes, the perch is empty and the Kingfisher has dived ...

He returns to the perch, a minnow speared on his bill. I think we could be back in business as the Kingfisher stays with me at the hide for forty five minutes. 

He dives several times and spends a little time preening, clearly comfortable with the location and staking this as his own territory.

The kingfisher eventually flies off downstream, giving me the perfect opportunity to pack up and vacate the hide. 

I will return during the week, the signs of Kingfisher action is more promising now, it has been worth relocating.

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