Hi and welcome to my Blog, my name is Paul Riddle and I live in south Leicestershire, UK. Back in August 2007 my quest began to locate as many local Little Owl territories as possible. The driving force was a reported decline in the uk numbers so I thought I would do my bit and conduct a study in my area. After 7 years and countless hours out in the field I have detected over 200 different sites. With a thirst for a greater understanding of the owls a more comprehensive monitoring and nest box programme then commenced. This also now includes monitoring the local and very sparse population of Barn Owls, please pop back occasionally and catch up with the life and times of my owls and any other wildlife that I come across. I hope you enjoy your visit!!!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

In the presence of the "KING".

For me to have any success with my long awaited Kingfisher project it was important to firstly find a local area that the bird(s) were using on a regular basis, it needed to be as quiet as possible and away from any disturbance. Now after many years of searching I think I have found the perfect location. It meets my initial criteria and what is even better it is private land that I have access to. 

My last trip out to the new Kingfisher site was a marathon of a visit, six hours to be precise. However, with reflection it was time well spent and this very steep learning curve I've been putting myself through is definitely starting to pay dividends.

I knew that once some birds had been found that was just going to be the start and the easy bit. Next it was going to be a matter of putting in the hours, I needed to understand the river, which areas the birds favoured and at which time of day etc etc. I've been studying the site on and off for a few years now and I'd always made mental notes on where I'd seen the Kingfishers. Armed with this information obviously it made things easier when I decided to get down to putting in a bit more effort.

Its not easy sitting and watching an area of the river when for most of the time (like 90%) nothing happens, you do begin to doubt your research but when a bird appears and you suddenly get an explosive few minutes all the hanging around and waiting is soon forgotten.  

Last weekend when I visited (see last post) I did learn a few tricks that would hopefully benefit all future visits. I'd manage to pinpoint one particular area (at the confluence of the two rivers) that the Kingfisher seemed to like. Then within the confines of this area I also noted several favoured hunting perches and posts. I'd also learnt that the birds are very easily spooked, just the slightest sound or movement of my lens was enough to have them flying off. 

So armed with all this latest intel I made another visit, I knew the morning was going to be the best time photographically as on my last visit I'd also made notes on light direction and potential image backgrounds. My selected "ambush" tactics were to set up near the cow drink, it is at this point where I could get the Landrover (my hide) at its lowest point and down and as near to the river as possible. From there it put me almost at eye level with one of the barbed wire fences that are regularly used by the bird as a perch.

During my two hour stint a single Kingfisher made several visits to the location to feed, three times he landed on the barbed wire and the images below are my selection from that session that I'd like to share.

As you will have possibly deduced from the above images the bird landed very close to me. I was very fortunate as if he had been any nearer I wouldn't have been able to get the whole of him in the frame at 300mm. None of the images have been cropped vertically and only slightly horizontally. I am hoping that you will agree that these are my best Kingfisher images so far, and I am so glad I put in the groundwork so as to achieve these results. 

Moving forward, on my next visit I am going try a slightly different location as there are some nice natural looking perches/posts that I have seen the bird use occasionally. I am pretty sure it is going to be a longer wait but it would be a massive improvement over the barbed wire as a perch. Also on my wish list is to capture a close up image of the bird with a fish, and a flight shot would go down nicely too and the ultimate would be a pair of Kingfishers together in the same image.

I am sure that to achieve my "wish list" of Kingfisher images it is going to take a long long time and a whole lot more research needs to be done, but god loves a trier!

Thanks for visiting!


  1. Absolutely stunning, Paul! Nothing wrong with barbed wire as far as I'm concerned. It's been around for decades, if not centuries, and we don't downgrade an owl image if it's sitting on a fence post or brick building. So a Kingfisher on barbed wire, if anything, scores for its originality. That last image is truly amazing, and if you can beat it, I'd like to see what with !!!! Of course, with a fish might just tip the balance ;-}

    1. Many thanks buddy, kind words and a challenge, we'll see if I am able to come up with the goods?

  2. Cracking images Paul all your research has paid off. I don't doubt you'll get the flight or fish shot. Well done

    1. I do hope you are right Doug, it won't be for the lack of trying, cheers mate.

  3. Superb Paul.

    Would they take to using a natural perch attached to the barbed wire? The background is really good in the photos, so it must be worth continuing to work that location

  4. Hi Carl

    I have already had a go at your suggestion, no luck as yet? When observing the bird(s) they do seem to have a series of favoured perches and are ignoring mine. But I won't give up just yet because the the "barbed wire area" has the other variables that are needed, ie the light direction and as you mentioned the nicely defused background.
    Cheers mate.