After tracking down and finding a local brook where Kingfishers frequent, I thought I was set up for many months or even years of great images. How wrong could I have been ?
And then they were gone ! What happened ? Could they have succumbed to a predator ? Both the male and female ? Possibly while in their nest [tunnel] ? I was quite aware that the pair of Kingfishers should have been building their nest and maybe even sitting on eggs around this time... But if this were the case, the male should be fishing for two. For several weeks, there was no sign and more worryingly, not even the sound of Kingfishers along the brook where they had [not so long ago] been fishing most days.
Everyone who has tried to track down and photograph Kingfishers in the wild will know it is far from easy. In my opinion, Kingfishers are one of the most alert and nervous birds in the UK. Had I scared them off ? This is quite possible as I tried to get closer and find that perfect perch with a great featureless background !
I decided I had to try and think like a Kingfisher !!
To the best of my knowledge, Brown Rats, Mink and maybe Sparrow Hawks are the most likely predators in Oxfordshire. If I were a Kingfisher, how would I avoid being caught by one of these threats ? Then it dawned on me... The area that I had previously been successful had the banks cleared a couple of months ago, but now the grass, trees and nettles were flourishing in the spring conditions and were overgrown, creating perfect hiding places for predators to wait and strike. So I went about cutting back the over-grown bank side vegetation in the small area for which I have access. Within 24 hours the Kingfishers were back fishing as they were before the period of silence. Both male and female choosing their favourite perches as if they had never been away. While I am thrilled to see they are both alive and doing well, I am concerned to see the female fishing. I read on social media that plenty of Kingfishers around the UK are sitting on their eggs right now. I hope this pair are just a little late and that I start to see that tell-tail sign of a fish being taken away from the brook with its head furthest from the male Kingfisher, ready to pass to it's mate.
Fingers crossed these wonderful birds do raise a couple of healthy chicks this spring.