The Fisher Queen

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Over the last five months I’ve been working on kingfishers in Worcestershire using Mark Hancox’s set up, located on a private stretch of river close to where I used to live.

What started as a one day workshop in May has now turned into pretty much a mini project, seeing me return regularly for just ‘one more go’ with this striking bird, the fisher king.

This weekend I spent another 2 days in Mark’s hide . On this occasion Pressie came along with me as I wanted her to share with me the magical experience of seeing a kingfisher up close. To get a proper look at its beautiful colour and detail. As always with Mark’s set up we weren’t disappointed.

Each time I go up to visit is different. There are a total of five birds in the area with two adult males and a first year juvenile female putting in regular appearances. Over the weekend though it was the female who was holding court. The fisher queen if you will. It’s been a privilege to watch her come on over the last five months. The flecks around her face are almost gone and the red along the base of her bill has started to lengthen. She’s in perfect condition now. A more delicate version of her adult counterpart. She’ll be a real heart breaker when she grows up as they say!

Sunday proved to be a perfect day. A clear night with temperatures hovering around freezing gave way to a dawn shrouded in mist and frost.

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Our little lady made herself busy all morning, returning to fish eight or nine times before 10 o’clock. This  presented plenty of  opportunity to photograph her in a variety of poses on different perches.

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Click on thumbnail to enlarge

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

As the day wore on so our little kingfisher’s visits became more infrequent. By late afternoon the sun was starting to dip. As we hadn’t seen her for quite some time our thoughts were starting to turn to calling it a day and making the long journey back to London.

The light though was beautiful, full of warmth. One of the wonderful things about returning to the river time and time again is that the passing of the seasons gives the light a different quality altogether. The flowing waters taking on different hues. I could see the light reflecting onto the perch and let out an audible prayer she would return just once more, much to Pressie’s amusement.

And then there she was, the reflected light from the water dancing on her face Hearing the shutter starting to click she turned her slightly looking in our direction quizzically, giving me the shot at the top of this post. It was one of those rare, magical moments in photographing wildlife that make all the hours of patient waiting worthwhile. She stayed there a good ten minutes giving me plenty more opportunities to try to capture the beauty of the moment. If I’m honest though mere words and images don’t do it justice.

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Then finally, without warning, she flew off her perch and came and sat just under the hide -just a yard or two away from where Pressie sat looking out with her binos. Just for her I thought. And then she was gone, flying off down the river, fish in bill. Calling all the while. A perfect, thrilling  way to end the weekend. Now it was time to pack up.

I’d like to thank Mark Hancox for his generosity in letting us use his hide. He really is one of the nicest guys you could meet and has become a firm friend. Cheers Mark. You’re a star! Mark is offering Kingfisher workshops throughout the autumn. Here’s the link if you would like to contact him:

http://www.markhancoxbirdphotography.co.uk/pages/contact.php

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