I’m not complaining, but normally I see my kingfishers while standing for hours among the nettles and thistles on the riverbank towards Cotterstock. I spotted this one while sitting on the decking at the Kingfisher cafe in Barnwell Country Park, coffee in hand. I could get used to this!
I’d heard reports of several kingfisher chicks at Barnwell Country Park and decided to investigate. They emerged at exactly the same time as the Cotterstock ones, so it seemed likely that they chicks had by now been driven away by the parents. But surprisingly there was one still there, fishing from pollarded willows in the middle of the lake. It was moderately successful, maybe getting a fish on every twentieth attempt. It must be exhausting – it certainly felt that watching it.
The books say that chicks are driven off their parents’ territory four days after leaving the nest but it appears not to have happened here. I wonder if there are enough fish to cut the youngsters some slack, or maybe the rules aren’t so rigid with successive broods? It was interesting to meet some fellow kingfisher obsessives in the hide. One lady had been there all morning and had been taking some great photos. She had got several shots of adults and chicks together in the previous week – something I never managed among the leafier and more overgrown conditions on the riverbank. She had also snapped one kingfisher with a frog in its beak and another with a dragonfly!
Next day I met another photographer who travelled from Corby. Since he had retired, following kingfishers was his main interest. He simply filled up memory cards and then went onto the next one. He rated the kingfisher hide at Barnwell as the best in the county. I have to say I agreed with him on the days I was there. The chick was constantly flitting across and fishing – a photographer’s delight, though those action shots of a bird diving in and out of the water never quite lived up to their promise!
As I walked back home the road crossed streams that looked ideal for kingfishers. I could hear loud two-note calling that sounded like territory disputes. I can imagine lots of birds coming and going. But I would be glad to get back to my haunts on the river towards Cotterstock. It was nice to have some company, and there was something wonderful about watching wildlife while sitting in the comfort and anonymity of a hide with the sounds of children playing on a squeaky swing nearby. Refreshment and toilet facilities were near at hand. But somehow it all felt a bit too easy. I guess I just like a bit more peace and quiet and need to feel it’s a bit more of a challenge!