A Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) on its perch is the image! Many nature photographers are keen on getting on – or more – of this. Highlight is action, which could mean feeding or diving for food. Between February and March of Kingfisher starts dating. Before Kingfishers are ready to mate, the female have to be brought into the right mood. For this purpose, the male woos his selected counterpart and offer presents, in many cases small fishes. Obviously feeding the female is a very important contribution to the pair bond. Nice photo opportunities are possible from a photo hide in der Feldberger Seenlandschaft in the northern part of Brandenburg. A lake called Hechtsee is full of fishes. End of April a pair of kingfishers could be photographed. At dawn first mating could be observed and photographed and in the course of the morning, at least threetimes feeding action could be photographed. Luckily for photographers feeding the female is therefore not only limited to the time prior to mating.
Up to 8 eggs are hatched alternately by the Kingfisher pair in a period of just three weeks. Until they get their full plumage, it takes another 3 weeks. The young birds leave the nest cavity finally 23 to 28 days after hatching. At the beginning they are further fed by the parents. Then again feeding, this time the youngs, can be shot at the right places.
The kingfisher, which can be seen on a perch, broods in a tube directly in photo hide construction. At this perch it is possible not only to see both sexes, males and females, but to photograph the Kingfisher in action, too.
If you can not use a made-up of such a hide or if you want to use your own hide, the question for the perfect perch arises – of course. To which potential perch for Kingfishers one should pay attention.
As far, as I can say, Kingfishers will perch on just about anything, as they can’t afford to be too picky as perches have to fit for several challenges. Kingfishers tend to like more solid perches, rather than something small, like a reed. The important thing is to place a perch stick (and your hide) at a site that is not disturbed by other people, dog walkers, joggers etc. Clear water and a light colored river bed is also good as it means the Kingfisher can see fish against the bottom. They prefer to fish from about 1.2 metres to about 2.5 metres. This is possibly because it allows them to judge the position of prey allowing for water refraction, also to get the penetration when diving for deeper fish.
Kingfishers usually hunt in clear yet sluggish water of a river near the bank or in slack water where fry gather in the shallows. Kingfishers cannot hunt in fast-flowing water, so need slack water pools and eddies. Kingfishers are not restricted to small fish, but also hunt crustaceans and larvae on the river bed. Offering Kingfishers a perch in the open might attract them sooner, but close to cover will make them feel a bit more secure.
Kingfishers have an activity peak (also for hunting) in the morning and in the late afternoon, with a slack period during midday. They are territorial. That is why they fly about a lot, and also because they are commuting between good feeding perches. A good idea might be to place the perch where it is in good light for a prolonged time, and only use one perch at a time. Be prepared for the birds arrival on the perch as Kingfishers are wary of movement, invariably if you have two perches it will land on the one you are not pointing the lens at.
You can change the perch regularly for different looking shots, the bird will readily take to a different perch in the same area.
A perch near the water level will also work as they bathe from low perches by rapidly dipping in and out of the water. They often move out of their territories during winter, due to weather or clouding of the rivers (due to increased rainfall in autumn), and will find a new spot somewhere else, but usually come back to the same area next summer.
In addition to the Kingfishers, Common Terns (Sterna hirundo) can be photographed on the Hechtsee in Feldberger Seenlandschaft, too. The kingfisher breeds in a tube directly in the hide contruction which is basically built on a raft. The operator of the hide, Fred Bollman, has placed a basin with bait fish directly under the stick wich works as the perch. There are other photo opportunities which can be booked directly on the website of Fred Bollman.
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