Monday, 7 July 2014

The kingfisher trap

According to Tim, Bill Oddie described the "Kingfisher Trap" on one of his wildlife TV programs, but short of buying the DVD boxed sets and playing them all, I couldn't say which one. I have a small side bet on "How to Watch Wildlife", a series first broadcast on BBC2 in early 2005.

The reasoning behind the Kingfisher Trap goes like this:
  • birds never sit still
  • when they sit still, you can't see them properly
  • when you can see them properly, you haven't got your camera with you
  • so you provide them with a perch positioned where you can see it, and you sit there with your camera and take pictures when the bird turns up.
It works.

My first ever picture of a kingfisher - an adult male

All you do is fix a pole over the water where the electric blue bullet whizzes to and fro, making that piercing "Hweet" call. This one is over the millstream, visible (after a little judicious gardening) from the bedroom window. You still have to find a way of persuading your kingfisher to stay long enough to focus the camera, but that's down to the likely prey in the chosen stretch of water. No prey, no stay.

Other birds like to use the kingfisher trap, too. It provides a convenient spot for an incoming bird with food for chicks to check that all is well and no predators are watching before going to the nest.

Female blackcap with breakfast

This pair of blackcaps has a second brood, having successfully raised about four from the first. They have relocated to the side of the tree nursery area, in a space previously occupied by a wren. She used the perch too, and is also on a second brood, somewhere.

Other species, such as grey wagtails, use the perch as a survey point to catch insects over the water. Last Friday a family group of at least four birds, adults and young, landed on the pole in great excitement. Unfortunately the evening sunlight was coming straight down the pole and all I got in the picture was a reflection of the camera.

7 comments:

Colin and Elizabeth said...

Brill picture, they are incredibly difficult to catch in one place for long enough to focus... Been there done that but nowhere near as good as yours... C

Jean said...

Marvellous photos!
We have never tried photographing birds. They've usually cleared off by the time we've leaned over to pick up the binoculars. We leave it to talented people like you!

philipstrange said...

lovely to see all the details of the plumage of both beautiful birds

Pollygarter said...

Well, you know the secret now! A stick and a good photo editor. In my case, the picture editor (Microsoft Picture Manager) isn't particularly good, but it can crop and that's good enough for me!

Tim said...

Today I managed five pictures of the kingfisher. He dived off the pole and caught a fish, and flew off under the bridge with it - I didn't get that bit of course. Pauline

Pollygarter said...

I had another go with "My Finepix Studio". Pressed the Automatic Edit button, and got a considerable improvement. You can see the difference between the kingfisher and the whitethroat which is still Picture manager.

Niall & Antoinette said...

oooh great photo of the kingfisher :-)