Kingfishers Spring 2015.

25th June 2015
Although this spring has not been warm in the Brecon Beacons, there has been very little rainfall. As a result of this dry spell the local rivers have fallen to quite low levels. I have been watching a stretch of the river Usk near to where I live and I decided last week that if the weather remained dry then I would erect some perches in the hope of attracting some Kingfishers. Yesterday morning I went to a favoured location very early morning and cut some perches with my machete I then erected them right out on the river. I always choose a piece of wood that is roughly 'L' shaped, with a long trunk, about six foot with an upswept branch about two feet sticking out of the water. The trunk is laid under the water and is weighed down with heavy flat river stones. I then use a sharpened straight stake which is hammered down into the river bed with a flat stone and then I tie this to the upswept branch. Finally I attach the finishing perch to this stake, usually a more attractive piece of wood with some lichen or moss growth on it.
I had to wade in up to mid thigh to achieve this so wearing shorts and just old shoes or trainers is necessary. The submerged log was under a depth of about a foot and the final branch was about three feet above the river where it is about three foot deep. I always use driftwood for these perches because when they are finished they are just reclaimed back by the river.
I made my way back on to the river bank got dressed and waited for an hour hidden away to see what would unfold. I immediately saw a Kingfisher approach the perch but it veered away at the last second, unsure of something new. This is perfectly normal because it usually takes them a few hours to accept a different perch. I didn't see any birds land on my perch while I was there but I left fairly sure that they would accept it.
This morning at first light, 05.00, I was back at the location and as I approached slowly through the undergrowth I had the satisfaction of seeing a Kingfisher just sat on my perch. Always nice to see this happen, although if you locate your perches sensibly then these birds will accept them. However, you must calculate correctly where you are going to situate your hide because if the birds don't like where your hide is they wont come near the perches. I had to wait for ten minutes until he, (I ccould see it was a male bird), flew off down river. I quickly erected my hide and got under cover and waited for the light to improve. After an hour or so a bird perched and I could now see that ir was a young bird. This was a surprise to me and I realised that the adults had already reared their first brood, of which this bird was obviously one, and they were in the process or rearing their second. I know this because I saw the adult male flying with a fish facing forward in its beak last week. This is always a good indicator that they have young, because they always eat their catch immediately on or near the perch they have fished from.
I was able to take a few shots and I am confident that if my perches hold firm I will have more opportunities over the next month to possibly photograph more members of this Kingfisher family.
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