By Shirley Gallant
Kingfishers are wonderful birds to observe. I love to watch them hover over the water looking for minnows and then suddenly dive in head first and come up with one. They are very shy birds and will fly off as soon as they see anything out of the ordinary. While observing them from a distance I noticed they tend to use the same perches, often flying back and forth between them. That gave me an idea of how I might get a good photo of one. I would build a perfect perch over a pond that was close by. I fasted a long sapling to a snag so the tip would hang out over a good fishing hole in the pond. Next, I built a blind with some evergreen boughs and a piece of burlap.
Every few days I would go back to check and without fail I would scare her off the perch. Sometimes I would sit on the woods floor, remote shutter in hand, and wait for an hour or more but she just wouldn't come back while I was there. Finally I arrived one day when she wasn't on the perch and I quickly slipped into my blind, set up my camera and tripod, and waited... she came back. I fired off the shutter and was thrilled that I finally managed to get a closeup. This is what I got. Hmmm, she didn't land on the spot that I had my camera pointed at. I had to rethink how I was going to do this.
I took a small stool with me so the next time I could sit and be ready to look through the viewfinder. That would allow me to adjust the camera slightly when she wasn't looking. It took a few more trips back but finally I got the shot I wanted; a full frame closeup. She fished from that perch for about 10 minutes while I secretly took photos of her. It sure gave me a thrill and an appreciation for what serious wildlife photographers must experience.
Since then I have encountered many Kingfishers while out canoeing and I still think they laugh at my efforts to get close but I know now that I'm better off to not bother trying to get close. Just point, shoot, and crop.
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