• Jan Hunter

Photographing Kingfishers

We'd like to extend our very special thanks to Paul Wesson for writing this article for us (not to mention the hours he has spent patiently waiting to capture these amazing photographs).

Kingfishers are many people's favourite British bird, with their electric blue backs and orange breasts they are one of Britain’s most colourful too. They are also quite small and elusive and are mostly seen as a blue streak skimming low over the water.

I have been lucky enough in the past couple of years to have been able to take photographs of kingfishers perching and fishing. I became interested in bird and wildlife photography some 10 years ago when I bought my first DSLR, having had a film SLR for a great many years. I found the best way to find birds was to join the local Wildlife Trust and Ornithological Societies, their members have a wealth of knowledge and are more than willing to share this with other members.

Kingfisher on lichen covered branch
Image: Paul Wesson

Once you have established where the birds are likely to be, often following a conversation in a bird hide with other enthusiasts, it is then down to you to put in the time to get the shots. I have spent many fruitless hours/days without even seeing a bird, let alone getting a picture!

Regarding equipment my own personal preference is to use a full frame DSLR with a 500mm prime lens for a perching shot. If I am trying for flying/diving shots I use an 80-400mm zoom lens. I also use a tripod centre column with a gimbal head and a hide clamp to give a solid base. There are of course other alternatives which give the same magnification which are more manageable and can be handheld. An example would be a micro 4/3rd or a DSLR DX body.

Kingfisher among reeds
Image: Paul Wesson

In summary to get Kingfisher images without visiting hides set up by professionals you will need to do some research and most of all have lots of patience! Please consider the welfare of the birds and do not disturb any birds you may come across, especially during the breeding season in the spring.

Paul Wesson

You can find a very useful article on bird photography and the law at https://community.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/b/notesonnature/posts/bird-photography-and-the-law

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