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Posts Tagged ‘female Belted Kingfisher’

The female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) that I spotted last Friday at Huntley Meadows Park was too quick and too far away for me to photograph in flight when she took off several times to try to catch a fish. I did manage, though, to capture a short sequence of shots when she was returning to her perch after an unsuccessful attempt. Unlike many birds that would have approached the perch horizontally, the kingfisher came up out of the water vertically, appearing almost to levitate as she rose to her perch.

Normally I lead a blog post with my favorite or my best image, but this time I decided to leave the shots in the correct time sequence. The middle image in which the kingfisher was fully spread her wings is my clear favorite of the three, though I like the way that each shot shows the different body and wing positions as she stuck her landing–I would give her a perfect score of 10.

 

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was exploring in Huntley Meadows Park last Friday, I heard the unmistakeable rattling call of a kingfisher. After a bit of searching, I located this female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) on a perch high above an osprey nesting platform jutting out of the water. I watched and waited and eventually kingfisher flew down from the perch in an attempt to catch a fish.

The kingfisher was successful and returned to the perch with a sizable fish. The first challenge for the kingfisher was to subdue the fish and it beat the fish repeatedly against the perch. At the same time it adjusted the fish in order to swallow the fish headfirst, in the same way that a great blue heron does. In the second image, you can see that the kingfisher has maneuvered the fish into almost the proper position.

I am a bit more used to watching ospreys and eagles consume fish, which they accomplish by tearing away pieces of the fish with their sharp beaks while holding down the fish with their equally sharp talons. Kingfishers have differently-shaped bills and talons, so they have to swallow their fish in a single gulp.

The kingfisher has little margin for error as it makes its forceful movements while balancing itself on a narrow perch high above the water. The final photo shows that mistakes can happen—the fish slipped out of the kingfisher’s bill when she lifted her head upwards to swallow it.

I am able to happily report that the kingfisher was able to fly down to the water, retrieve the fish, and eventually consume it. As always, I encourage you to double-click on the images to get a closer look at the wonderful details of the photos.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During the hot, humid days of mid-summer, I often hear the sounds of birds, but rarely see them. Although I may be out in the blazing sun, most of the birds seem to use common sense and take shelter in the shade of the trees.

Last week as I was exploring Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, I heard the unmistakable call of a kingfisher and caught a glimpse of it skimming across the water of a small pond. I was a bit surprised when it chose briefly to perch in a small tree overhanging the water. I was a long way away, but had a clear line of sight and captured this image of the female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). I can tell that it is a female because I can see a reddish-colored band across its chest that the male lacks.

Many of you know that I photograph birds more frequently during the winter months, when insects disappear and the lack of foliage makes it easier to spot the birds. Throughout the year, however, I try to be ready in case a bird decides to be cooperative and poses for me.

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It often feels like Belted Kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon) are taunting me. They boldly advertise their presence with a distinctive rattling call, but keep their distance or fly away quickly before I can spot them. I dream of spotting one at close range and getting some shots before it is aware of my presence.

Well, my dream did not not come true this past Monday, but I did manage to get some shots of a female Belted Kingfisher in flight while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I took the shots at pretty long range as the kingfisher was moving from perch to perch in the distant trees.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Every monarch needs a crown and this female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) seemed to be wearing a leafy one yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Maybe I should be calling her a Belted Queenfisher. 🙂

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Belted Kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon) are normally very skittish and it seems like they always choose to perch in distant trees. This past weekend, however, a female Belted Kingfisher flew to some trees that were a lot closer than usual and I was able to capture these shot. The images don’t exactly fill they frame, but they do show a lot of the cool details that make the kingfisher so special. In case you are curious, it is really easy to identify the gender of Belted Kingfishers—only the females have the rust-colored stripes on the chest, one of the few cases in which a female of a bird species is more colorful than the male.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) and a Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) seemed to be eyeing each other with intense curiosity this past Friday at Huntley Meadows Park when they both chose to occupy the same tree at the same time.

Redheads have a mysterious attraction, it seems, in the bird world as well as in the human world.

Belted Kingfisher and Red-headed Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spent a considerable amount of time one morning earlier this month at Huntley Meadows Park trying to get some shots of this skittish female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). It was almost impossible to get really close, so I had to rely on my long telephoto zoom lens.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I spent a fair amount of time yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park watching a female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), one of my favorite birds. She was perched on a broken-off tree a pretty good distance away and there was no way that I could get any closer, since there was water between the boardwalk on which I was standing and that tree.

The kingfisher remained perched for quite some time, so I had plenty of time to steady myself and adjust settings until I was relatively content with some of my shots. What I really wanted to do, though, was to capture the kingfisher. I knew that eventually the kingfisher would dive into the water and I waited. Kingfishers don’t give any real warning when they are ready to dive, so I tried to remain alert and ready, even though I knew the chances of me capturing this fast-moving bird in flight were slim.

The kingfisher dove several times and I did manage to capture a few ok images of her flight toward the water. My favorite shot, however, is the final one here in which she is flying out of the water with what looks to be a small fish.

It was a nice catch for both of us.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On a cloudy, misty afternoon yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park, this female Belted Kingfisher ( Megaceryle alcyon) couldn’t make up her mind where to perch, flying from one rotted tree to another in the marshland. I was thrilled to get this shot when she took off from one of her perches.

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I keep trying without much success to get a close shot of a Belted Kingfisher, but they are very skittish and always seem to be perched on the opposite bank of the stream or pond from where I am standing.

This past weekend I was happy to get a clear (albeit distant) look at this beautiful female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) at my favorite marshland park. The kingfisher seemed to be taking a break from fishing and spent most of her time looking to the left and to the right rather than down at the water.

I’ve spotted a kingfisher before on this perch, but can’t get any closer from this side of the pond. Occasionally I will trek to the other side of the pond and hope that eventually I will be able to sneak closer to this elusive bird from that direction.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Recently, while exploring the streams in the remote back areas of Huntley Meadows Park, I have heard the unmistakable call of a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) several times. Yesterday, on a warm spring-like day, I finally got a clear view of this beautiful female.

As I have mentioned before in some earlier postings, Belted Kingfishers are unusual in the bird world—the females are more colorful than the males. Females have a blue and a chestnut band across their white breasts and the males have only a blue band.

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How do birds choose the perches they use? Several times last month I saw a female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) perched in the early morning on this monitoring equipment sticking out of the water. Somehow I had the impression that the kingfisher was spending the nights on that perch.

Perhaps it’s more comfortable (or maybe safer) than the surrounding trees. Whatever the case, it makes for an interesting juxtaposition of natural and man-made elements in the image.

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the distinctive look and bright colors of the Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) and was thrilled to spot this female on Monday at Huntley Meadows Park.

She was initially perched on a rotten tree trunk in a meadow, which is actually a dried-up pond—the water levels at the marsh are perilously low at the moment.  Before I could get a close shot, I managed to spook her and she flew to the higher perch that you see in the first image of this posting. The second image shows her in her initial position.

I like the way that the dark leaves provide a backdrop that draws our attention to the kingfisher in the first shot, but also like the softer quality of the second shot, with the grass and the out-of-focus treeline.

Unlike in most bird species, the female Belted Kingfisher is more colorful than the male—she has a rust-colored stripe that is absent in the male.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday, the last day of January, I set out for a small pond, hoping to see a female Belted Kingfisher who hangs out there. I didn’t have high hopes that I would see her and thought the pond probably would be frozen. I was happy to discover that the pond was only partially frozen over and thrilled when I hear the unmistakable call of a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon).

Before I could get in range, the kingfisher flew into a tree that was a good distance away, adjacent to the wall of an elevated section of railroad tracks. The tan color in the first photo is that wall. After I had observed her for a few moments (and she seemed to be observing me), she flew a little higher in the trees and I took the second shot. The colorful design was painted on a railroad tanker car.

I am still hoping that I will be able to get some closer shots of this kingfisher, but I was quite pleased to be able to capture these images of one of my favorite birds.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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A female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) lives at a small lake not far from where I live and periodically I try to photograph, but she continues to remain elusive.

Generally I try to photograph the kingfisher at one of her normal perches in a grove of trees across a narrow portion of the lake from where I am standing. It’s tough to isolate her against the backdrop of the trees, especially at this time of the year when the leaves are still on the trees, and often I only catch sight of her when she starts to fly.

Most of the shots in this posting are my attempts to capture her in flight. I am getting better at tracking the bird in the air and keeping her in focus, but it’s not easy to do as she flies in and out of the shadows and against varying backgrounds and she is somewhat hidden in these shots.

This past weekend, I decided to try to approach the grove of trees from the other side of the lake, where there is often a group of fishermen. I was fortunate that I was alone and I was able to make it relatively close to the grove of trees.  I was surprised to see that the kingfisher was on a low perch rather than high in the trees where I usually find her and I managed to squeeze off a few shots before she flew away. The first shot in this posting was from this new shooting position.

I plan to try this new approach again in the future and with a bit of luck, I may finally be able to get the kind of shot of this bird that I have been visualizing in my mind.

 

Belted Kingfisher

Belted KingfisherBelted KingfisherBelted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s autumn now and my thoughts (and my camera) are starting to focus more on birds than insects. This past weekend, I returned to a location where I had previous seen a female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon).  The kingfisher would perch on the limbs of some trees overlooking a small trout-stocked pond called Lake Cook, which is really more like a small pond, and periodically make a foray across the surface of the water and grab a fish.

I realized this time that I had a problem—there are so many leaves still on the trees that I couldn’t spot the kingfisher when I heard its very distinctive, rattling call. I could get a general idea of its location, but couldn’t see the kingfisher until it was already in flight, which mean I had to react really quickly to acquire and track it, hoping that I would be able to focus on it.

As it turns out, hope is not really an effective photographic technique and not surprisingly I ended up with a lot of blurry, improperly exposed images, in part because the kingfisher was flying in an out of the shadows. I was pleased, though, that I was able to capture a few decent images of the kingfisher in flight. I was shooting from across the pond from where the kingfisher was perched, so the shots are not close-ups of the bird, but are more like environmental action shots. Maybe I need a longer lens!

Belted KingfisherBelted KiingfisherBelted KingfisherBelted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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