Close observation of kingfisher’s habits produces dramatic shot

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), Brookwood Marsh, Nanaimo, British Columbia, September 20, 2015, 10:15 a.m., by Dave Pley
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), Brookwood Marsh, Nanaimo, British Columbia, September 20, 2015, 10:15 a.m., by Dave Pley

As their name implies, Belted Kingfishers excel at hunting fish. And while fish make up the bulk of their diet, the birds are opportunistic: They also eat mollusks, crayfish, small mammals, young birds, and amphibians.

Dave Pley
Dave Pley

For a few days in September, Dave Pley watched the female pictured here hunting frogs at a marsh in a suburban neighborhood in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, in western British Columbia.

His time was well spent. After learning the kingfisher’s habits, he knew just when to shoot as the bird dove for another frog. His photo, which he shared in our Flickr group, shows the bird’s singular focus on its unseen prey. Its wings are pulled back, its spotted tail feathers are fanned, and its legs are tucked entirely into feathers, exposing only the feet.

Pley says he is “very pleased with the photo as kingfishers are hard to track
in flight.”

Inspired by his dad, a birder, Pley took his first photos of birds five years ago and hasn’t looked back. He works at a national auto-glass warehouse in Nanaimo.

He used the following equipment and settings to take the photograph:

Camera: Canon 7D
Lens: Canon 400mm f/5.6L USM
Settings: 1/2500, f/7.1, ISO 400, manual mode
Light: Natural
Format: TIFF, converted to JPG

A version of this article appeared in the December 2015 issue of BirdWatching magazine. 

 

New to birdwatching?

Sign up for our free e-newsletter to receive news, photos of birds, attracting and ID tips, descriptions of birding hotspots, and more delivered to your inbox every other week. Sign up now.

See the contents of our current issue.

How to subscribe to BirdWatching.

Originally Published

Read our newsletter!

Sign up for our free e-newsletter to receive news, photos of birds, attracting and ID tips, and more delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up for Free