Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Finally...a Photo of a Belted Kingfisher on the Little Miami River

Almost every time I walk the Little Miami trail, I hear the strident, rattling calls of the resident Belted Kingfisher. Sometimes I even catch glimpses of him through the trees as he wings it down the river screaming at some unknown terror, but I never get to see him up close. Two weeks ago, however, my luck changed. Instead of packing for the Ann Arbor trip, I snuck over to the Little Miami trail for a quick bit of birding. It was the first cool-ish day of the season, and at 57 degrees, the slight nip had brought a lot of people out on the trail for a taste of Autumn weather. After about five minutes of unusually high foot and bike traffic…and very few birds, I decided to take it to the river and found a small deer trail that led through the brushy undergrowth to the river below. Just as I made it to the rocks at the bottom, I looked up to see a Belted Kingfisher heading my way! I froze, and watched him land on a branch about 30-40 feet above me. Trying to move slowly and lift the camera at the same time, I studied him as he studied the water, looking for movement that might end up as his dinner!

Look at that spiky head! I LOVE that unkempt, oily looking crest!
Then there's the huge head...long bill...short tail...and tiny feet--put it all together, and you've got a really big, crazy-sounding hummingbird (until, of course, you remember it dives headfirst into the water and eats fish--still...).

This is the male. The female is more colorful with a rust-colored belt around her upper belly that shows down her sides as well.

Bullet bird!

Our Belted Kingfisher sat on a low-hanging branch for about three minutes, waiting patiently before he dove headfirst into the water and came up with a fish!

...flying back to the perch over my head, he rested for a second before taking off down the river. I watched him fly out of sight, listening to his calls fade away slowly. About 15 minutes later he came back, but he never returned to my side of the river and always stayed at least 150 or so yards away.

52 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Wow, that last picture is fantastic!!!

I saw my first kingfisher a few weeks ago and I was really excited to get one with its wings spread.

Bill S. said...

WOW, what a beautiful pictures of the Belted Kingfisher. You are lucky - but I have a saying on the wall of my classroom. "I'm successful because I am lucky. The harder I work, the luckier I get." Fits you. Thanks.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Awesome, Kelly. I love the "action" shots! That makes for such a great series of photos to document your encounter.

Richard said...

Great shots. That's one hard bird to get close to.

Kelly said...

Elizabeth...Thanks! I love seeing Kingfishers. As soon as I hear their call I just freeze!

Bill...ahhhh...thanks....working hard when it comes to birds is fun! Wish I did it for a living. I keep telling my son....."become a professional birder or naturalist so you can roam the fields all day long!" He wants to be a vet, so I guess that's close enough.

Adrienne...thank you very much! I wonder if I'll ever be able to get a photo of him again. I know where to go now....

Richard......you can say that again. I've waited years to get a decent shot. He was still pretty far away and I had to do a lot of cropping, but that's okay! Thanks!

Tabib said...

Great picture and I like his hair style.

Caroline said...

Gosh, lucky you to have him come so close - these are a super series and I just love the Rod Stewart hairdo!!

Kitty said...

How lucky! - what an encounter!! He looks like quite a rebel with those spikey tufts :) Great pictures, too; I have only ever seen kingfisher's about 3 times - and they've only ever been bright blue blurs flying swiftly away from me!

Susan W. said...

WOW! I love that bullet bird - and every other pic! Incredible!

Phil and Mandy said...

lovely photos Kelly, gorgeous Kingfisher. Regards Phil

Roy said...

Thats a nice capture Kelly, what a crazy haircut. {:)

Sue said...

Kingfishers are so cool-I'm glad you got these shots. We had a resident one at our old place in the U.P.. So neat to watch!

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
magnificent. I'm so happy you got him!!! I like the spiky head but the movement shots are terrific and very dynamic... Beautiful post!

Kerri said...

I got goosebumps reading about the Kingfisher - I am sooooo envious that you were able to get so close. I see them sometimes but they are so far away. These are fabulous shots and what a memory to treasure!
And thanks so much for sharing it with us!!

Laure Ferlita said...

What great photos! I've only seen one in the "wild" and I was flying down the road about 40 miles an hour and when I looked back he was gone! Now I know why (looking at your photos)!

Heather said...

Kelly, all I can say is AWESOME!!!! Very nicely done, girl. They are such beautiful yet funny-looking birds... something about them seems a bit out of proportion to me. Only makes them more endearing, though. That last photo reminds me of a Blue Jay a little bit. Congrats on your luck and patience.

Montanagirl said...

Wonderful photos, Kelly. I've never gotten really very close to a belted Kingfisher. I have seen a couple in this area, but always from a distance.

Roy said...

Great shots, Kelly! I have yet to have a Kingfisher come that close.

Elaine said...

Lovely! I've never seen one of these guys. Maybe someday....

Ginnymo said...

That Kingfisher is a funny looking little thing with all those feathers sticking up on his head like that..Ha! But he's real cute.. and what a great shot that last one is Kelly!!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kel, I am so happy that you got to see a Kingfisher. I would LOVE to see one someday. They are so unique... Congrats!!!

Hugs,
Betsy--on my way home (on my laptop)

Cicero Sings said...

Great shots of an elusive bird ... when it comes to photos!

sharon said...

Wow, fantastic photos - I've never even seen any type of Kingfisher let alone photographed one! Congrats!

Mary said...

Wow...you got such wonderful photos of it! Really neat to get to see it fish.

Warren Baker said...

You did well to get those pics Kelly. If that kingfisher is as warey as ours are!!

John said...

Hi Kelly,

The Belted Kingfisher is fantastic, what stunning photographs. You struck gold that day Kelly well done.

Here in the UK we were very lucky to have one turn up back on April 1st 2005, and I was lucky enough to get to see it. Amzing bird.

John

Chris Petrak said...

I've yet to get any photos of the BEKI - and the last one! Takes good equipment, for photographer, patience ... and luck! You got all.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Kelly.
What a cracking bird that is. Well done on finally getting it. Great set of photo's Kelly.

The Early Birder said...

Great images Kelly and brought back memories of my first sightings when one visit a neighbours lake every day we were on holiday in Florida. FAB.

holdingmoments said...

Great captures Kelly. What a stunning looking bird with that spiky hairstyle.

DK Miller said...

Wow! How cool Kelly. That last photo is amazing!

Steve B said...

Good job! whoo-hooo and all that!

Dave Lewis said...

Holy Cow!
I am the jealous boy now. I've never been that close to one before.
Fantastic work Peanut!

Marci said...

They are tough to photograph! I have yet to get a good shot. Your photos are amazing! Such crisp detail and wonderful colors!

ShySongbird said...

What a great little character he is Kelly, I love his rather punk looking hairdo!

I have never been able to get a photo of our Woodpeckers and don't even see them very often.

Your photos are lovely, the last one was a great capture!

Nature As Is said...

I'm excited for you Kelly...we have them here too...but like you I haven't had a lucky day yet. Maybe one day. Excellent photo's of a stunning bird.

dAwN said...

Great shots of the Kingfisher Kelly! A very difficult bird to capture.

Chad said...

And good pictures too! Awesome!

andrea pratt said...

Too cool. I haven't decided if it's more like a teenage boy with a faux-hawk, or an old lounge schmoozer. Great photos as usual!

:: flyingstars :: said...

simply beautifully captured shots and the lat one is just fantastic...lovely!

Midmarsh John said...

Great photos of an unusual looking bird which looks as though it is having a 'bad hair day'. ;) The last flight shot is magnificent.

dreamfalcon said...

congratulations!

Jayne said...

Yea!!!!! Congratulations Kelly! What a feat to get such wonderful photos of this elusive little diver!!

Nick S said...

Many congrats on the Kingfisher Kelly :-)
It was great to catch up with all your posts. All of them lovely reads.

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

Very nice photo of this magnificent bird.

Jenny said...

Amazing photos Kelly. I know how skittish these birds are! Our Kingfisher is the same. It's such a great feeling when that happens I know! Proper job! as we say here in deepest Somerset! (-:

José Ramón said...

You have a very interesting blog.
Greetings from creativity and imagination photos of Jose Ramon

troutbirder said...

They are regulars here but I've never seen action shots like these. Just great!

Jain said...

All the adjectives have been used, but I'll still say it's a wonderful series of photos! I hear them often in my area but couldn't dream of getting such shots!

Moria said...

Amazing!! I love Belted Kingfishers... actually the whole Kingfisher family is my favorite. Thanks for the wonderful post and pictures. I hope I can get a great shot like that one day too! :)

Hilke Breder said...

Love the shots, Kelly, particularly the last one is pretty unique.

Kelly said...

Hello, everyone! Well...once again I have fallen behind. i spent all last week cleaning and organizing my house for a party on Sunday. As a result....no birding...no posting...no visiting blogs. I hope to catch up this week. Thanks to everyone for all the kind comments. I think I'd like to go to this spot and just hang out, hoping to catch another close encounter with this gorgeous bird.