There was no mistaking the high pitched shrill of a common kingfisher. One minute the branch was bare, next she was sitting looking downwards observing the water below. A sudden lunge and plop in what appeared to be just a nanosecond and she was back on the branch dispatching her quarry. On this occasion she had caught a small tench. She slapped the unfortunate fish on the branch a couple of times and then flew off with her bounty. Female kingfishers are distinguishable from males by the orange colouration on the ventral part of the lower mandible.
I was in a hide in Worcestershire by a small river outlet famed for its kingfisher sightings. It was late afternoon and the frontal light was now beginning to illuminate the branch. It is a waiting game, but as soon as you switch off a kingfisher appears. My camera was poised and pre-focused on the branch area with a relatively good depth of field to retain focus, whilst maintaining a high enough shutter speed value to account for any sudden kingfisher movement. I also wanted to maintain a blurred background (bokeh) so that the eye is firmly drawn to the bird and branch with no other awkward distractions. This approach is captured within my painting.
The early drive from Devon was well worth the effort and I managed to bag some good images to utilise for the painting composition you see here.
Kingfishers are iconic river birds. A flashing glimpse of blue is usually the best one can hope for, but, as with all wildlife encounters, good fieldcraft, the right location and oodles of patience can pay dividends leading to some great one-on-one encounters.
Artist: Mark Taylor Hutchinson
Painting medium: Giclee Print
Original Size: 38cm x 19cm