Tuesday, 2 October 2012

KINGFISHERS AND GREY WAGTAILS

GREY WAGTAIL (MOTACILLA CINEREA)
Well it's the last day of work on my shift pattern and I was contemplating what to try and photograph on my four days off, weather permitting. There's a lot of Mistle Thrushes and Jays at a couple of my favourite locations, I also fancied some Kingfisher images as my current lot on my website are looking a bit old.  Problem with Kingfishers around here they've been a bit thin on the ground. the only sightings have been as they flash past down rivers. Seeming as my shift ended at 2pm I thought I would go and have a look at an old site, as it was on the way home. I headed for a stretch of the River Nene just behind the Billing Aquadrome/Clifford Hill. For Northants birders that's not the Clifford Hill gravel pit but the actual ancient monument site, the old hill fort.
When I first started birding I always went to this spot as it was always good for Kingfishers, Thrushes, Buzzards, Treecreepers and Kestrels. It still is, for Tree Creepers its worth walking up to the hill/fort and walking along the footpath at the top, as you're at eye level with the tops of the tree, and you get the Treecreepers scurrying like mice to the top before descending down to the bottom of the next tree and back up. I decided to go looking for Kingfishers instead and went to the Billing Aquadrome. The first bird I found straight away was another pair of Greywagtails, it was a bit overcast so the images were a bit dark and dull looking.

GREY WAGTAIL (MOTACILLA CINEREA)
 I headed for an old Kingisher spot and sat down on the river bank, giving the number of dog walkers and the proximity of the caravans of the Billing Aquadrome there was no real need for concealment as I remember the Kingfisher here was quite bold and "showy".  I gave a quick scan of the birds old perch, shutter speed was very low ( 1/40th was the best I could manage) and quite a high ISO, but given were the sun should've been, this had the makings of a good spot, also I didn't have to wait to long as "peep-peep" came the unmistakable Kingfisher call, I glanced in the direction to see not one but two Kingfishers coming straight down the river and straight onto the old perch, glad to see it still using it, didn't bother with a flight shot as when I was tracking the lead Kingfisher coming down the river I was getting only 1/20th a second shutter speed. The image below was taken at 1/40th so really only got a record shot, the male is the bird in focus (all black bill), the out of foucus bird on the left, I think might be female, but I was treated to a twenty minute display of the bird on the left keep calling and stretching up towards the throat of the male Kingfisher, similiar to the feeding techique of juvenile gulls taping the throat of adult gulls to get food, so the bird on the left might be a juvenile.
Despite a few dog walkers going past, the Kingsfishers remained both being very vocal, it took a grumpy Moorhen wanting the perch to flush the Kingfisher. I'll have to go back on a sunny day. I've only put a small record images below, so click on it once to see the proper size.

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