Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Kingfishers Re-visited

Kingfisher in flight, originally uploaded by Christopher Mills.

On Monday I made the return trip I had promised myself to Ardingly and the Loder Vally NR. My timing was good this time around - the brood has obviously hatched as both adult Kingfishers were busily popping in and out of the nest every 20 minutes or so - quite a contrast to the miserly couple of sightings of three weeks ago! I ended up with 4 or 5 shots out of 100+ plus that I was reasonably happy with, although still wishing I had a longer lens! This shot was taken with the usual 300 + 1.7tc combo. Although I've done well enough to capture the bird in flight, the cropping (around 65%) needed means it's not as detailed as I would like. Of course for every image you're happy with, there's a bundle that get deleted there and then and I must have got rid of a couple of hundred "duffers". The bird was too small in the viewfinder for AF to track reliably, so I had to use manual focus, aim where I though it would fly and hope that the shutter speed was quck enough (1/3200) and wide aperture wouldn't render the depth of field too shallow. It just about came off on this occasion.

On the Owl front, still nothing. There were a couple of long, streaky droppings on fence posts this evening and evidence of some vole activity on one of the fields. I do think that the lack of voles is still a factor though - a quick grass check revealed that 3 of the 5 fields surveyed will not support a healthy field vole population at present, for reasons previously discussed. I hope the council instruct whoever does the cutting more carefully this year. I shall be contacting them in the early summer to ensure they are at least aware of the consequences of cutting the grass so short - I'm amazed at the lack of thought that went into it last year. There's still time, but it looks a feint hope now.

To end on a positive note, a Kestrel was hunting this evening on the (presumed lost) Barn Owl's favourite bit of turf, and the "eep" of a Kingfisher was heard as it whizzed along the Arun behind me. What marvellous little birds they are!

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