Thursday, 28 May 2015

Messing about on the river

Had a great day out this week with Charlie Bishop on one of his Kingfisher courses. 

If you want the opportunity to take great photos of Kingfishers catching fish then Charlie can sort it out for you.

Over the last four years he has been cultivating a secret spot on a Somerset river where a family of Kingfishers nests every year. Fully licensed to photograph this beautiful bird in the vicinity of its nest, he has set things up to make it easy for the visitor to get the shots they may have been dreaming of for ages.

Here is Charlie, probably engaged in erecting the two hides he sets out by the riverbank - can't quite tell from this shot, but he could be.

He has placed a number of branches for the birds to use as perches, and attracts them with a tub of minnows which he catches fresh on each visit. Here he is descending into the river with his net and minnow bucket.

It is quite a walk for him to catch the minnows whilst his guests can use the time to set up their camera and make themselves comfortable in the camouflaged hide. When he returns with the fish he pours them into a semi-submerged tub resting on a platform in the river.

In addition to taking the normal photos we were trying to use one of my electronic bird detectors to catch the Kingfisher in the act of landing on one of the branches. You can see the special stand that Charlie made to hold the detector in this next shot. A cable comes back underwater to my camera apparatus which is on dry land.

Charlie can be seen in the photo above setting up a video camera and microphone close to the nest. The photo below shows him fixing the camera and mike to a support rod prior to entering the river for the umpteenth time.

The mike he is using is radio-linked to a receiver in his hide. Everytime the Kingfisher returned to the nest with a fish he told me he could hear the chicks cheeping! Excellent.

Anyway, the sad news is that I did not have much luck with my electronic detector. First the motion of nearby foliage set off numerous false alarms. Then, once the wind had died down, we noticed that the bird was not approaching the branch on a path which would take it over the detector. Despite Charlie plunging back into the river on several occasions to adjust the detector position, we never did sort this out. Often the bird would leave the branch and set off the detector on its way back to the nest, but that was no good! So back to the drawing board on that one.

Here are a couple more shots of Charlie wading about in the river. He is such a hard-working chap and brave too - his waders were leaking at the crotch!

He did eventually manage to clamber out. Mind those stinging nettles!

Even if there were no Kingfishers, all this carry-on is pretty entertaining in its own right! But actually, there were plenty of opportunities to photograph the beautiful bird.

You can tell if the Kingfisher intends to eat the fish itself or return to the nest to feed the chicks by the way it holds it in its beak. If it manipulates the fish to face head out, it is going to feed the chicks, and vice versa. This one is destined for the nest.

So, what a great day, and hundreds of photos to sort out afterwards. Here are some links for you to follow:

Charlie's webpage again

My webpage where some of my best Kingfisher shots from the day will soon appear 

My Facebook page (which you may like to "like")

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