Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Photographer’s Tale

Tuesday was another lovely sunny but cold winter’s day.

Not wanting to waste the weather, after lunch we set off for RSPB Fairburn Ings. We weren't expecting lots of exciting birds but it’s a good walk to the far end of the reserve from the visitors’ centre. It was cold and sunny but the overnight frost hadn't melted leaving some of the paths white and icy.
Lots of the lakes were still iced over leaving the birds to walk on water.
As we made our way to the far end of the reserve, we stopped off a couple of times to sample the viewing from the hides. On the main lake there was a little ice free water in the middle and most of the birds had congregated in this area of unfrozen water. At the end of the reserve as I looked over the lake an unmistakably flash of orange and blue skimmed along the water and into some trees. It was so fast I didn't get chance to take a picture. After a few minutes in the hide at the end of the reserve we decided to head back to the visitor centre. 

As we walked we had a little chat about me spotting the kingfisher. Had I really seen one? That sort of thing. I knew roughly where the kingfisher had flown to but didn't really expect to see it again. Then I spotted it perched in a tree and as I began to explain to Sue where it was it took flight and headed off further down the small stream. We headed after it and soon spotted it again in good Kingfisher pose but in a very poorly lit spot. Camera at the ready I looked into the viewfinder and all I could see was a black screen. I checked to see if the lens cap was on but it wasn't. I switched the camera on and off. No difference just a black screen. The battery was dead and by now the kingfisher had disappeared. I swapped the dead camera battery for a spare but couldn't believe the battery had died at such a critical time.
As we headed back to the visitor centre the sun was starting to set. As we approached the “Kingfisher screen” where on all our visits to the reserve we have never ever seen a kingfisher one of the RSPB wardens whispered as loudly as he dared that there was a kingfisher. I was now glad I had a spare camera battery. 
Well at least I got a photo this time. The tree branch is nicely in focus but that’s not exactly what I wanted. We started a discussion with the warden about how we never saw a kingfisher at this spot when another or maybe the same one appeared by the water marker post. I was a little more prepared this time and managed a sort of half decent shot of a kingfisher.
Notice that the kingfisher has chosen not to use the ready made kingfisher post which you can just see part of in the top right hand corner of the photo.

Having failed completely to get any sightings let alone photos of a kingfisher here before this year we've had a pretty good year for spotting and photographing this spectacular little bird in 2014.

Contrary to the forecaster’s predictions the early hours of New Year’s Eve produced our coldest night of the current cold snap. The temperature fell to -3.3°C the coldest since it fell to -2.4°C on the 24 March so New Year’s Eve becomes our coldest day of the year.


  1. It shows that perseverance pays off. I've never seen a kingfisher at Fairburn.

    1. In all our visits to Fairburn we hadn't seen one either. For some reason I never really expected to see one on Tuesday. The RSPB man we spoke to thought that they were fairly common. Perhaps now we've seen one we'll see some more.

      Wishing you a happy New Year

  2. Hurray, you got some photos in the end. Your pictures from Slimbridge were good too. We've been looking for a bittern from the Kingfisher hide at Slimbridge lately. No luck yet though, and I think it may have moved on. There's a ferruginous duck there at the moment that the eldest wants to see. Wishing you and Sue a very happy 2015, with lots of successful birding.

    1. Only ever seen a bittern once for about a nano second. Had to look ferruginous duck up. I've certainly never knowingly seen one of those.

      Wishing you all a very happy New Year.


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