TWASI Day trip: Kingfisher Hide - April 26th
You all missed a real treat! I was the only member to sign up for the Kingfisher trip and it certainly didn't disappoint.
I had recently been asked to paint a kingfisher on a feather. I always like to paint from my own reference photos, and in this case I bought some images from an artist reference photographer as my only personal experience of seeing a kingfisher in the wild was a glimpse of a blue flash as it darted up a river!
When the TWASI Kingfisher trip was advertised, I signed up straight away.
As the day came nearer, I found myself feeling nervous, wondering if I would actually see a kingfisher ‘in real life’.
The day came and I drove up to Worcester to meet Vic Sharratt who had organised the day. We met just off the M5 and Vic led the way to the farm. We parked up and walked across some fields - the view was stunning and the sun was shining.
Vic showed me the way into a purpose built hide which to my surprise had comfy chairs inside! More importantly, a fantastic view of a perch where local Kingfishers came to feed. I met 2 photographers inside who had been watching all morning (I’d booked an afternoon session 1-5pm) - they told me the kingfisher had been coming to the perch regularly every hour...so it was a case of setting up my camera and waiting patiently in the hope the kingfisher would continue to visit.
I think I waited the best part of an hour, all the time hoping to see some ‘blue’. The more time went by, the more convinced I was that he’d filled up on fish in the morning and wasn’t hungry any more...until he suddenly appeared!
Clicking cameras didn’t phaze him - he sat on the perch studying the fish below and when he was ready he dived down. I think he ‘missed’ a couple of times, so we saw several dives. Eventually, he caught a fish and we watched the ‘bash, flip, swallow’ routine that I’ve only ever seen on the TV. Then, in a flash of blue, he was gone. This colourful little bird returned to the perch and dived for fish about half a dozen times during the afternoon - it was such a privilege to see for myself.
During the afternoon, the 2 photographers from the morning left the hide and another photographer came in with an enormous camera/lens combination. His photos were amazing and I had a serious case of ‘lens-envy’! I have a decent SLR camera but I only have a 300mm lens which although adequate for photos for me to use as reference for my paintings, I would definitely recommend using a 500mm + lens if possible to get the best quality images.
As the afternoon turned to evening, it was time to head back to the cars and on the way, we decided to check out the ‘little owl hide’. We sat and waited for quite a while and only saw crows!
A fox appeared in the field and was mobbed by crows and rooks. That was exciting to watch but was too distant for my lens to capture well. An unexpected treat as we sat waiting was hearing a Cuckoo! At this point, the other chap was contemplating leaving but I was determined to make the most of my visit and decided to wait a bit longer...Bingo! A little owl appeared on the post in front of us!!!!! I was so excited (those who know me know how much I love my owls/birds of prey).
This little owl sat and looked towards us (we were hidden behind camouflage material but I know he knew we were there.) We both snapped away to capture as many pics as we could while he stood his ground against the Jackdaws and crows and after a couple of minutes he flew back into his tree.
That made our day - well worth the wait!
If you’re interested, contact Vic Sharratt or look up ‘Nature Photography Hides’ on Facebook.
By Mandi Baykaa-Murray