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Stalking the Wild Kingfisher

Thursday, October 3, 2013

If there is a warier bird than the belted kingfisher, I don't know one. Wild turkey? But turkeys taste good. They've got reason to be wary.

Did people once shoot kingfishers on sight? Have these birds evolved believing to their bones that we mean to kill them? These are things I wonder.

The same thing that makes kingfishers frustrating subjects for photography also makes them great fun. The Science Chimp loves a challenge. And now that I have a bitchin' Canon 70-300 mm 1:4-5.6 L IS
 telephoto lens, mounted on the nimble and responsive Canon 7D body,  the happy accidents turn out to be my best shots. This isn't fabulous, but oh what a cool position! Freezing birds in flight is so satisfying when you've been drawing them all your life, trying to figure out how those wings work.

Flying, always flying. Much more interesting than perched, you have to admit. And a bird with some habitat is always more interesting to me than one that fills the frame. That's why the 70-300 is such a good fit for what I like to do. Context. For a painter, it's all about context, giving the bird a place to live in your photos and paintings.

Ehh, anybody can take a photo of a perched bird...

It's getting close enough to get that photo of a kingfisher that's such a delightful challenge.

Getting eyeshine on one, so much the better.

They're like coiled springs, always ready to take off with a blistering rattle. 

The Science Chimp doesn't let a little vegetation or a few dead branches get in the way. DANG! This would have been such a sweet shot.

It's this kind of thing that can occupy me all day long, muttering and cussing and laughing at my lack of luck.

Well, this one doesn't stink... 

and this one is cool on a stick! Kingfishers remind me of woodpeckers with their spots, bars and patches. Not so far apart, taxonomically, I think.

This one makes my heart sing. Thank you, Kingfisher. See you in a few weeks? We'll do our dance all over again.


such a lovely bird! very loud and distinct sound! i see one every now and again along the lakeshore.
great shots! (i can never get to my camera quick enough and he's gone!)

I love the speckles through his white wing patches! I can't remember ever having a good enough view through my binoculars to notice them before. A kingfisher is currently convalescing at our wildlife rehab facility, and that wariness translates directly to being quite a fearsome patient, though I've definitely taken the opportunity to admire him up close :)

Definitely my fave group of birds. Thanks for capturing such a lovely chase!

I completely love it when you shine your amazing spotlight on one of my faves. Especially since a lot of my faves tend to be fairly pedestrian, hotshot birder-wise. I love love love kingfishers! And while I don't have a hope of catching them in flight with my iphone camera, I do love watching them on the wing with my binos.

Kingfishers and great blue herons make my day, as often as anything else I can think of. Thanks for these last couple of valentines to these creatures of the wet edges of my world.


Posted by KH Macomber October 3, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Kingfishers are my photographic nemesis. I've been trying for years to get a decent photo of one, but usually only end up with a distant, blurry photo as the little devil streaks away, rattling like a maniac.

I adore them. And I will admit that one of the things I love about them is they always tell you they're there, and they don't sound like anyone else. For us ID-challenged types, that is a blessing. I STILL don't know who all the little brown stripey jobs on my feeder are. I kind of think it's their fault, though. They'd tart up a bit if they cared.

Though kayaking roughly 500 miles ESE of you, your sightings are much the same these last few weeks. Yesterday a pair of kingfishers kept us company around Gum Swamp.

Wonderful pictures. I still can't even get a picture of a still kingfisher much less one flying.

But I do love them and am trying to find out if they breed in trees in Texas. I almost always find them when paddling, but they are not supposed to breed there.

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