24 Feb

This beauty’s been in Sheffield’s Porter Valley, on a pond two hundred yards from my home, for a few days. She – I think  I can tell the sex from the orange on the lower mandible of the beak – takes up a vigilant perch overlooking the water, diving every two or three minutes to come up each time with a minnow or small bleak.


There’s nothing quite like the electric blue thrill of a kingfisher on the wing but I doubt I’ll ever capture it in a pin sharp image. State of the art kit is required: not just £15k lenses but cameras where ISO can be pushed high yet still deliver low ‘noise’ images, to allow fast shutter speeds while getting sufficient light to the sensor. Even then you’ll have to know the bird’s habits well enough to predict her moves. Plus you need the reflexes of a teenager.*

With none of these things going for me, I was thrilled to get even these static images with my Canon 7D and f2.8  70:200mm UMS IS II lens. A 2x converter extended focal length to 400mm but reduced my widest aperture by two stops to f5.6 –  which in turn lowered available shutter speed – as well as adding weight, both factors necessitating a tripod.

That last, together with the kingfisher’s characteristic stillness prior to a dive, allowed low (-ish) shutter speeds and ISO levels which, while higher than I’d have liked, gave images I’m not too proud to post here. In any case, seeing a kingfisher at all is a rare treat, never mind having one return day after day to pose for you!

* Two days later I’d revised my opinion on this. See Kingfisher 2

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One Reply to “Kingfisher”

  1. Clever to be able to handle a camera like that. They are beautiful, little birds, a flash of brilliant colours and they are gone. Well done.. I used to watch one flitting and diving into the river near my school, delightful.
    Thank you

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