I've been making an effort to get out and about a bit more lately and primarily focusing on my bird photography. I have to say its paid off.
First I was able to finally get some shots of some Long Tailed Tits on a trip to Testwood Lakes last weekend. Then I spent an afternoon in high winds up close with some Godwits at Pennington Marshes.
Now, I have managed to fullfill one of my long standing 'dreams' for bird photography.
For years now I've wanted to photograph the illusive Kingfisher, but have never really found anywhere to get close to them. I've had them near me briefly whilst out photographing Grebes at a couple of locations, but being wary of the protection they have and the laws around photographing near their nests I haven't made an active attempt pursued any.
On a recent trip to Blashford Lakes in The New Forest, (where I know there are Kingfishers but have never been lucky enough to see any), I managed to catch a quick shot of one from one of the hides as it perched on a branch behind some reeds.
It was an obscured shot but I was happy - it was a Kingfisher.
I then found out about another hide on the reserve where they were more frequently spotted. I ventured there on afternoon and one made an appearance but too far out for any shots. After talking to a fellow photography, Stuart Gay, I discovered something interesting about the reserve that would aid me in getting some shots.
The next morning, I got up at 4am and ventured out to the hides waiting for them to open. I was first there for a long time and I settled in, not really holding out hope as light was low, and knowing that this particular hide gets very busy very fast, I just wasn't feeling it.
Then I was in for a surprise. A Kingfisher showed up and perched directly in front of me. Shortly after another Kingfisher showed up as well and the two were quite active.
A few shots later in the low light and the sun started coming up. Not long after I was in for a surprise as a total of FIVE Kingfishers showed up and all perched on the same log.
I'm guessing they must all be one brood as they're usually very territorial.
Sadly I couldn't get a shot of all 5 of them on the same log in the water as there were too many branches obscuring the view and I was equipped with my 400mm f4 + 1.4x teleconvertor so fitting them all in the frame was a no go.
I did later manage to get a 'reference shot' of three sharing a branch, but the light was very low again at this point in the morning and in the shadow of the hide I was forced to step up my ISO to compensate. Additionally one of the Kingfishers was obscured by a branch.
Despite not being a technically correct photo, I've included it in the gallery anyway.
The light was up and down most of the morning with not much of a golden hour but I made the most of it. I managed few shots of a Female Kingfisher with a young Perch on two occasions, and garnered some nice portrait shots which is all I was really after in all honesty. The fish shots were a bonus.
You can find my Kingfisher shots in the Garden Birds gallery on the website.
As well as the Kingfishers, I was also able to get some nice shots of a Cormorant and Great Crested Grebe Fishing. However due to the height of the hide, I wasn't entirely happy with them myself. I like to be able to get down eye level with my subjects. However you can find the resulting shots up in the Water Birds Photography Gallery.
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