Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

The King and I

Kingfisher amongst reeds

All things considered, I’m actually having a very lucky year. Photographing Foxes in early Spring has merged almost seamlessly into photographing Barn Owls and in turn, on to Kingfishers. Now that the young Sparrowhawks have departed (well I think they’ve gone but you can never tell with those sneaky raptors) the juvenile Kingfishers have increased the frequency of their colourful performances.

Kingfisher-with large fish

It has been such good fun watching the two Kingfisher fledglings develop their skills and explore their new surroundings. I sat next to a quiet young couple in the hide last week that were so excited to see such their first fantastic display, they were nearly moved to tears. You’ve got to hand it to these most striking of British birds, they really do know how to put on a show.

But do you know, what? I’m starting to get just a little bit bored. Heresy? No! It’s not the Kingfishers that have lost their charms; it’s those @*&% perches. Compositionally speaking, you can only do so much with a bird on a stick before it makes you want to curl up your toes and die. Anyway, no need to worry I’ll still be around but will be working that little bit harder to achieve that perfect image?

I was watching a Kingfisher on Tuesday evening. It only made a very brief appearance on a perch before it flew off into the distant reeds. Some minutes later, I realised that it wasn’t going to return so I somewhat reluctantly swung the big lens around to the adjacent window only to see a reed obscuring the Kingfisher. I noticed that a light breeze was gently blowing the reeds and for a fraction of a second, there would be a clear view. Fortune must have been smiling down on me as I managed to make two exposures before the bird flew off northwards. Please see the image at the head of this post and double click to see a larger version on Flickr.

I was delighted to see that both images were sharp and that the leaf only obscured a small part of its body. It was quite dark at the base of the reeds and I like the way that the Kingfisher glows amongst the strong diagonal lines of the stalks and leaves. This image has quickly become one of my all time favourites—though it has a quieter, more contemplative quality than my flight shots of last year.

Red Fox at dawn_2

It’s not all been Kingfishers, at Tophill Low. I was greeted by a beautiful Red Fox one early morning as I opened the hide window. The soft dawn light was just right to bring out the detail in the fur and eyes. Grass snakes seem to be everywhere at present. Just look out for unusual patterns on the surface of the lake. A wonderful Barn Owl made an appearance just as I was putting my camera away. The missed opportunity still irked me, even though I knew it would have been too dark to get a sharp image.

Little Grebe-walking on water


The sole surviving Little Grebe has been showing daily and young Moorhens try vainly to perch on the reed heads. Lat night, a snipe cautiously made it way through the reeds and made a brief appearance in the glow of the setting sun. A fitting end to a good week.

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