“My” Female Kingfisher Is Back!

I think I need to go to the grocery store more often.

Readers will remember that I posted some pretty dramatic photos of a Cooper’s Hawk trying to fly with a pigeon in its talons three days ago. I found those birds on a street in my neighborhood while I was driving to the supermarket. Well, on my way home from that same grocery store yesterday I made a detour to an urban pond to see if “my” female Belted Kingfisher was there. She’d been fairly reliable during certain months over the last couple of years but I haven’t seen her for a very long time. I’ve probably made 50-60 trips to the pond since nesting season began last year (when she disappeared) but she’s never been there.

Until yesterday!

Of course I didn’t have my big gun 500mm lens with me to go buy groceries so I raced home (never breaking the speed limit of course… – hah!), grabbed my other gear and headed back to the pond. She was still there.

I didn’t get any great shots (partly because of incredible clutter in most of her preferred fishing perches) but I did get some interesting ones and I’m hoping there’ll be more opportunities with her down the road.


1/5000, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

Some readers may remember this curved perch from previous images I’ve posted of her (of course I’m not positive it’s the same bird but I strongly suspect it is). She obviously still has an affinity for it because she spent much of her time fishing from there yesterday.

I like this perky pose.



1/4000, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

There was a stiff breeze blowing from behind her that kept blowing her crest the “wrong” way and mussing her feathers but she ignored it as she mostly concentrated on the pond below.



1/4000, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

She dived for fish many times but was usually unsuccessful. When she’d return to the perch she’d vigorously shake all her feathers which produced some poses I thought were interesting. Her nictitating membranes were usually closed during the process.




1/4000, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

Her dives for fish were incredibly quick so I usually missed them. This series of two images was one of the few times I didn’t end up with “air shots” or clipped body parts.




1/4000, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

I was impressed that my Canon 7D Mark II was able to keep focus locked onto the bird while she was coming toward me at this speed. This dive was the only time I saw her…



1/3200, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

come up with a fish. She landed with it on a different perch and turned my way for a moment before she swallowed the fish with her back to me. This shot is typical of the cluttered backgrounds in most of my photos of her.

You can probably tell I was pretty excited to see her – it seemed like finding an old friend again after a long separation. Hopefully next time (if there is one) I’ll have a little more luck finding her on uncluttered perches and photographing her in flight and coming out of the water after a dive.




27 comments to “My” Female Kingfisher Is Back!

  • Patty Chadwick

    The “cluttered” background doesn’t bother me…if that’s the kind of perching situation she favors, I’m glad to see it..We were pretty busy today…prepping for the big storm predicted to hit us tonight, tomorrow and into Wed. You and Mia certainly got great series of this little “Queenfisher”…

  • April Olson

    Great shots as usual, I like the shaking pose. It is always good to see and old friend.

  • Excellent photos. And great that your Kingfisher is back.

  • Carol Kautzman

    Ron, Just great shots! I wonder if you are using Al Servo to lock focus. Any trick to that? I’m just learning or trying to learn to use it.

  • Woo Hoo.
    And happy dances.

  • Marty K

    I think I’m almost as excited to see her as you! The first shot sure brought a big cheesy grin! 😀 She looks great framed by that curved branch. Her diving poses are so intense. It looks like she’s actually knocked off some of the bark from the branch with her push off. Looking forward to your next encounter with her.

    By the way, I could use a loaf of bread, some lettuce, and a couple of tomatoes if they look any good. Do you deliver? 😉

    • I like that curved branch too, Marty. I just wish the other one wasn’t behind it!

      I don’t think I can manage delivery as far as your location. Besides, I don’t think supermarket tomatoes ever look good this time of year…

  • Marina schultz

    Wow so jealous….. My female Fischer was here all winter so why did yours disappear ?? Did pond freeze solid maybe??? And at what distance are you shooting this ?? I’m in a real low place with my photography right now…nothing is working right ..

  • Dick Harlow

    Great shots as usual Ron. Really nice to see an old friend!! I particularly like the first and last shots. I’m not concerned about the clutter as long as the bird doesn’t have any in front of it.
    Do you know what the object is that is falling in the second to last picture?

  • Julie

    I think I noticed a flash of recognition in her eye–I think she remembers you!

    Two questions: I noticed you are set at f/7.1 with your tc–do you manual focus? When I use my tc with my 7DII and my 100-400 II, I have to use f/8 for autofocus. Is that not the case w the 500mm?

    Do you ever use Photo Shop to remove some of the clutter? Just wondered if it was an integrity issue.

    • Julie, The Mark 11 will only AF below f/8 with lenses at least as fast as f/4. My 500 is an f/4 so it autofocuses throughout the aperture range. With our 100-400’s we can only go to f/8 with that camera.

      About the only thing I ever clone out of my images is dust spots and occasionally dark spots on the water. Yes, for me it’s an integrity/ethical issue when it comes to nature photography.

  • Kris Eberhard

    Does a Kingfisher usually return annually to the same location ? Is that why you think of her as “your” Kingfisher ? Or is it some identifying mark on this particular bird ?

    • Kris, some kingfishers don’t migrate and actually stick around the same general area all year. There’s a river nearby where this bird likely fishes for much of the year and this pond was frozen for much of the winter. But I don’t know if they “usually return annually to the same location”.

  • Charlotte Norton

    Such sensational shots! How fortunate you are to have her nearby!
    and……you certainly are taking great advantage of your good fortune!


  • Mitch

    Mornin’, Ron–Anyone that’s chased Kingfishers can appreciate the difficulty. Great job. I particularly like the pose in the last image and the “double-barreled” catchlight. Nicely done, as per usual. Best….Mitch

  • Judy Gusick

    Great shots, Ron! And so happy she’s turned up again and did a bit of posing for you! 🙂 My luck she’d have been gone by the time I returned. 🙂 The wind was definitely giving her a bit of grief – surprised she could see the fish as I imagine the water was also affected. Catching her in flight was really a bonus.

    • Judy, At times the wind ruffled the water to the point that I was surprised she didn’t leave. Maybe that’s part of the reason she caught so few fish.