Fairy Dell Kingfisher Diary

My diary of the wildlife i encounter in Fairy Dell as told with pictures while photographing and fliming a lone female kingfisher.

Frosty Morning as taken looking from my hide 18th January 2011

On 17th of January i heard that fairy dell had a resident kingfisher which had been seen quite regularly on one of the islands on the lake. I live in Coulby Newham so this location was right on my doorstep.Just before dawn i arrived at the dell and wandered around with binoculars in hand from the base of the steps right up to the overflow into the beck on the far side. My first visit was just to observe and there she was, a female kingfisher with full winter plumage fishing from a fallen tree trunk opposite the lake overflow into the beck.

I wandered around after she left with a large minnow in her beak.
I sat amongst the trees opposite the small island and waited..... then as if by magic with no prior notice of arrival she fished again.
After being spooked by a few people going about their normal day walking their dogs she returned to this spot 6 times in the space of an hour.
This was to be the spot to set up my hide............

One of my recent photos of the female kingfisher 18/01/2011

Kingfisher Diary

18th Januuary at break of dawn i set up my hide on the bank of the lake opposite the small island around 30 feet away opposite the overhanging branch.
Once inside i set up my equipment.
Canon EOS 7D, sigma 150-500mm telephoto lens, tripod and cable release. Oh yes and a thermos.
The sun was shining low on the opposite bank and there was still a thin layer of ice on the lake. A couple of moorhens were climbing amongst an overhanging branch after realising a couple of buds would make a tasty breakfast.
After about 2 hours the sun started to shine on the lake and suddenly un anounced the kingfisher arrived.
She settled down and scanned the area and started to fish from a tree branch about 10 feet off the water directly opposite me.I can only describe being in the close company of this bird for at least 15 minutes as simply breathtaking.
She then flew away down to the main island towards the beck end of the lake.
One point to note is that she also fishes from the tree trunk in the corner where the overflow from the lake meets the beck. if you sit quietly near the fence opposite this area you have a good chance to see her fish.
Around one o clock she was back and she followed the sun and fished close to the overhanging branch around 6 feet above it.
Due to the lake being quite shallow i noticed that she hovered over her prey for several seconds and entered the water at a slight angle rather than a steep dive.
Around 4 o clock a very happy smiley faced Mr Miles left for the warmth of home
My next visit will be on Tuesday 25th to set my camera on the water closer to where she fishes to hopefully get some diving shots.......
I will be following the kingfisher all spring to see if she stays in the area and finds a mate.

Tuesday 25th January Diary
Arrived 09:15 and set up hide on south island of lake facing NW opposite low overhanging branches.
Set up my camera to HD film setting and set tripod up with 500mm lens as today i was going to try and film the kingfisher hopefully fishing to get some diving shots.
Around 10:30 she arrived and perched on west side branch approx 12 ft from the water surface and started to fish. I made some notes and worked the camera lens around the water surface below the tree she was perched on. after 3 fish caught and e few notes on my part i finally nailed her diving into the water and flying to the overhanging branches right in front of me and to her fish.
In total i filmed 4 dives and a nice take off from a branch no more than 10 feet in front of me.

I have uploaded this short edited video i took of the Kingfisher fishing on the lake which is on youtube.
Hope you like it !!

Friday 28th Jan
Up at the crack of dawn and after disturbing a heron i am in my hide for 07:50 am.............another cold morning, a chilly 0 degc.
08:15 she arrives and as the sun starts to shine behind me onto the motionless lake, starts to fish from the bank side tree opposite the overhangs.
She tends to follow the sun fishing directly opposite my hide, but if people come along i have recently noticed she flies up the waterfall to the smaller higher elevated lake facing east.
9 fish this morning.
As the sun starts to shift to the west after lunch she tends to get closer to my hide about 8 feet away above me and fishes to the left or east side of the overhanging trees.
Another 6 fish before i left at 2 oclock.
I managed to get some more video today and have posted a sequel on youtube.
I am now trying to get some in flight and dive film on video, but this i feel is going to take some increased time and effort.

Friday February 4th
In the hide for 8 am on a very windy dull day with a lot of ripples on the lake. Im positioned away from the island 3m away from what i call tree no.2 on the west side. I Dont expect much in the way of photos today but i thought i would mainly observe.
Spotted 2 tree creepers directly in front of me and the usual squabbling moorhens.
She arrived st the overhang to the rear of my hide stayed for around 5 minutes and left without fishing.
By 12 pm the wind was whistling around the dell so i packed up and walked down to the pool near the beck and she was just leaving...
I summised that due to the violent movement of the trees and branches whipping around on the lake she fished in the relatively calm area of the pool all morning.
So nothing much to report today im afraid, back next Wednesday and hoping for calm and sunshine.
Weds February 9th 07:45 am
Back on island opposite overhang. Just putting up hide and a surprise visitor a dipper flew past and perched on a submerged treetrunk on lake at base of steps.
Dull breezy day to start and 08:15 she arrives on overhang to fish and promptly brought her fish to me and perched on the very top of my hide, i think she is growing accustomed to my presence.
2 fish later and flies up waterfall.
Sun showing briefly in short intervals but looks lovely on the lake and i spotted a sparrowhawk dive bombing a pidgeon above the tree tops.
It goes to show you that if you sit for long enough suitably dressed or camouflaged the wildlife comes to you.
Think she is also fishing in the top lake ?
A good afternoon and a few in flight shots albeit at a high ISO due to poor light but im getting there..... its a wonderful experience this,
Hope a male comes along soon and i am there to see it.
Not sure if she nests in the vicinity of the becks, but having spoken to many people she she has been seen on the lake throughout the year so i will be looking for evidence and making my usual notes.
Back in the hide at dawn next Thurss 24th.

Feb 24th
0630 am. still dark and raining with a woodpecker drumming its nest back in the park
Set a few perches up a bit closer to my hide this morning to see if she will fish closer to me.
She appears and fishes around 0900 and promptly heads off away from where i am based on the island.Its a busier day for visitors in the dell today so she flew up the waterfall to the top lake to fish most of the day.
One quite nice thing happened today. A group of about 12 blue tits were feeding upside down on the catkins when one decided to perch on top of my hide and with that the rest followed and i could see them above my head for a few seconds and away they went. This is what a good hide is all about, the wildlife comes to you and sometimes you sit there with mouth wide open in amazement.
Saw her briefly for her 1 oclock show and no more that day, maybe better next Monday and Tuesday.
So nothing much to report today but got one reasonably good in flight shot in my gallery.

Back in the hide at dawn next week

Tues 1st March
Hide set up in darkness on the island.........very cold this morning
Kingfisher no show from 0645 until 1400 today despite a really lovely sunny photography sort of day.
Had a 1 hr walk around the whole of Fairy Dell and no sign of her anywhere ?
Think maybe her wintering has ended and it is mating time so maybe she eloped with a male while i was away.
Returning next week to see if she just had an away day.
Heres hoping.
March 10th
Shes Back !!
Fishing main lake majority of the day and small island in the afternoon as the sun is getting higher and days getting longer.

Had a message on my flickr site that a female kingfisher stays around Marton west beck all year, wonder if its her ?
Spotted pair of jays, grey wagtail, tree creepers and lots of spring like bird activity
Spring is just around the corner and my cold toes cant wait .......
Back soon

April 9th
Back at the dell and spring has definately sprung!!
Lots of birds and mammals bury with thier nests
Kingfisher is not in the dell today so no report on her im afraid.
I had an unexpected visitor at the north end of the lake....
A pipistrelle bat fell out of a tree next to my camera bag
Took a couple of photos and placed him back into the tree where he promptly hung out and fell asleep !!
End of April our Kingfisher has left the dell, Hopefully she will be back for the winter..............i shall return to see.

Thanks for reading my diary

Back soon
Dave Miles