Sunday 16 May 2021

Kingfishers on the River Camel, Cornwall. 2021.


Adult male after bathing

I've been watching & photographing 2 nesting pairs of Kingfishers on the River Camel this spring. I hold a Natural England Schedule 1 licence to photograph them near to the nest as it's an offence to disturb these birds when nesting and of course it's not in my interest to cause any disturbance as then I'd get no pictures and more importantly the birds might fail to breed.

As it was one of the pairs failed and the other pair fledged at least 3 young yesterday (15th May).

The pair that failed had just started feeding young with the male active and the female still brooding the clutch. It was a cold rainy few days and I'm not sure of the cause of failure but it could have been their limited ability to catch prey when the river became muddy or one of the adults being taken by a predator or something as simple as the burrow collapsing.

Adult female taking a break from digging the nest burrow. Note the earth on the bill.

The female at this nest was very pale coloured on the breast and I did wonder if she was a late bird from last year and wasn't experienced although I did watch her take a brook lamprey & deal with it well.

Female with a brook lamprey

Female with a brook lamprey 

Male with salmonid

Male kingfisher

Male kingfisher  

Female kingfisher

Female kingfisher after a bath

Female Kingfisher with a bullhead


Male kingfisher with a brook lamprey

After taking many hundreds of photos of "birds on sticks" I played around with fast exposures and tried to catch the birds visiting the perch, usually after emerging from the water as they usually dunk in the river after leaving the burrow to clean off any earth and fish slime from the nest.

Slow shutter speed!

On the 15th May the young left the confines of the burrow to a bright new world. I saw 2 young and the adults were still carrying food to the nest so at least 3 young. Eventually one more emerged and sat in an alder sprig in the bank calling for food.

A newly emerged youngster

Female kingfisher with a bullhead and a begging youngster

Photobombing from the male

Female kingfisher with a bullhead and a begging youngster

Female kingfisher with a bullhead and a begging youngster

The adult female would not let the youngster have the fish but kept teasing it by putting it to its beak and then taking it away again. I guess some kind of training for their future survival.

Finally I watched a lone young kingfisher sat on an old water diversion board, spending time looking into the water....was it looking at its reflection for the first time or eyeing up its next meal?

 Always a great pleasure to be able to spend time in the company of these amazing and beautiful creatures. Hopefully they'll soon start on 2nd broods to keep the numbers up on our river.


Unknown said...

great story and nice blog, cheers for sharing

Anonymous said...

Great photos

Rose said...

Spectacular photographs. Thank you for sharing them and the blog .

Unknown said...

wonderful Adrian

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing- these are fantastic pics. A real window into a secret world.

Jasmina said...

Wonderful array of images - great to see their story unfold and see some young safely fledged at the end. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful images. I saw a Kingfisher early one October morning on Greenaway beach. I assume it had come down the estuary to explore the rock pools.
Thank you for sharing this precious time.

Adrian Langdon said...

I photographed one catching fish in a rock pool once at Greenaway until a guy let his dog go into the pool and frighten it away. When I asked him not to let it bath there as I was photographing a kingfisher he just replied "he always goes in that pool!". "moron"!