By David Element
Common Kingfishers Alcedo atthis are shy birds, and all that a casual observer will is likely to see is a brilliant metallic blue blur, caused by sunlight catching a reflective strip of feathers on its back as one flashes past. They usually fly low, either along a river, or just above the surface of a lake. Despite their bright plumage Kingfishers can be surprisingly difficult to see, so it pays to watch closely as one flies by to establish where it might have landed. A fishing Kingfisher will wait patiently, almost motionless, and then dive into the water once it has spotted a potential target, usually flying back up to a perch not far from where it had taken flight, regardless of whether a fish has been caught or not. Kingfishers are not all that easy to photograph, other than at bird reserves at which artificial nesting banks or feeding stations have been provided, and where they may be observed from hides at a comparatively close range without disturbance. However, the images on these pages were obtained using patient field-craft rather than hides, and most of the images were taken of a pair fishing in a small London park.