My dad recently booked a photography hide (www.photographyhides.co.uk) that almost guaranteed seeing Common kingfishers which would catch fish about 3metres away from you and eat them! Kingfishers are birds which mostly fish in rivers for fish like sticklebacks and minnows. Seeing one up close and being able to photograph one would be amazing as they are quite small, very shy and very fast when flying. Any sudden movements scare them very easily.
It was an early 5am start and a 2hour drive to the meeting location. When we arrived we met Shona (www.shonadicksonphotography.co.uk) who was the only other person booked in the same hide as us. We waited about 10 mins before someone led us to the location in which the Kingfishers were at. We were shown the setup of everything and given tips on how to get good photos of the kingfishers. From then on it was just Shona, my dad and I in the hide waiting for the Kingfishers.
AFTER ABOUT 10MINS OF WAITING THE MALE KINGFISHER CAME AND CAUGHT A FISH (minnow) RIGHT IN FRONT OF US!!! After he caught the fish he landed on the perch and shook it about and then hit the fish of off the perch before swallowing it head first. He would then wait a while before diving to catch another fish which he then flew off with.
About 45 mins later he was back and did the exact same but surprisingly he returned about 5mins later after flying off and did the same thing! Since my dad and I had better camera lens’ we decided to lend one to Shona who put it on her camera allowing her to get some GREAT SHOTS! We all came to an agreement that we think the male is eating a fish for himself then catching one and taking it for the female which is on eggs!
We then waited 2 1/2 hours with no Kingfishers perching which was annoying but then the owner (Alan) came in and asked how we were all doing. We told him what the male Kingfisher had been doing and he agreed that the female was on eggs and the Male was taking fish for her. Alan said he thought that the original nest the Kingfishers were using had either been predated by a mink or something but maybe even flooded! He said we could go and see the sparrow hawk hide if we wanted as there is only one other person there. Sparrowhawks are birds of prey which often catch small birds and eat them on a ‘plucking perch’ (this is a chosen spot in which the Sparrowhawk will eat its prey and pluck off the feathers/ hair) They often visit gardens catching a vulnerable pigeon!
After 30 mins more of the Kingfisher hide we went to the Sparrowhawk hide and met another man who told us what he had seen. This includes Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk and various common garden birds. (Unfortunately Shona had to leave and couldn’t join us)
We were very lucky and saw exactly what the man said which included Jays, Red Squirrels, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk and loads of common garden birds all in the first HOUR! We then decided to have one last look at the Kingfisher hide. We saw him three more times but unfortunately he caught nothing!
Over the time we spent in the hides we were all constantly changing camera settings to enable us to get shots of the kingfisher diving, the Sparrowhawk eating a mouse and Red Squirrels eating nuts. As the layout of the hides were designed to get photos of the Kingfishers diving, the Sparrowhawk and other species we were very successful and we were all happy with our photos but some of the photos I managed to get are quite grainy because it was a very cloudy and rainy day. Hopefully I get the chance to go again but in much better light and weather conditions!