Natural Eden Images Nature Photography by Stephen James Thompson
Natural Eden Images Nature Photography by Stephen James Thompson
A Female Kingfisher amongst new growth

More images of the Kingfisher in the run up to egg laying

As the breeding season is in full swing and the nest holes are freshly excavated both birds are at there most active very soon as the busy days of food gathering for newly hatched birds begin.This page is dedicated to images of the Kingfisher as it feeds downstream of its nest site and will be updated through the season.

The male watching the water from a high branch

Sitting on Eggs.

One of the pairs of Kingfishers that i am watching are now on there eggs with the Female busy sitting as the Male searches for food for itself and the Female.The warming of the temperature during the day over the last few days most certainly prompting the Female to drop eggs in the nest.Watching way downstream through binoculars near a feeding perch ive seen the Female entering the nest in the last couple of days and these images show the feeding activity of both birds during the Egg sitting stage.

Male on a branch

Calling softly on top of a dead branch the male rests after catching a small fish.After the Female has sat on the eggs for over an hour and a half while the male has waited to catch a fish or two for himself from a favourite branch downstream from the nest site the male decides to catch a fish for the female who has been busy incubating in the nest.With a fast dive and return to its branch with a large fish the male calls loudly for the female to come bolting downstream to accept the fish from the waiting Male.

The male on the right feeds the female

The fish is given to the female in a very fast transaction as they keep there distance from each other on a long branch above the stream.

The male enviously watches the female feed!

The male watches on as the female eats the long fish the male almost has a look of envy as he stands apart from its partner on the branch before he takes of upstream.As the Kingfishers go about there daily feeding patterns a Yellowhammer loudly calls from a nearby tree the male Kingfisher seems to listen to its song as it looks up at the small bright yellow bird.

Yellowhammer

The Yellowhammer that distracted the male Kingfisher with its loud singing from its high position above the Kingfisher.

A Breeding pair

Further away upstream another pair hold territory on a seperate section of river,unlike the above pair these birds are slightly behind as they have only just prepared there nest site and are busy in courtship and breeding as i watched them in the early light.It was a cold misty morning with not a breath of wind to rustle my camouflage scrim netting that enveloped me as i sat tight in amongst a ball of bramble bushes.It wasnt until an hour had passed before the sound of a Kingfisher came whistling upstream to its well used territory and riverside branch.The bird landed on the low branch showing that it was a female as it had the red lower beak that glowed an orange tint in the rising sun.

Female poised on branch

The brightly coloured female flew from the clear branch to another branch under a canopy of thin cover under an overhang of riverbank.She stood pruning her feathers for over ten minutes before a loud call could be heard from downstream,immediatly the female responded to the very distinct call of the male bird with the same loud call.After a few seconds the call of the male bird was much closer but was a low "cheep" call which was answered with an identical call by the female.After a procession of small calls to one another the male bird swiftly and purposefully flew up to the female.The male bird swung around in flight to land directly onto the waiting females back and without sound they were busy in copulation,the male gripping the head feathers of the female as the act of breeding was played out in a very brief encounter lasting only a few seconds before the male took off at speed upstream. 

The male on top of the female as copulation takes place
Super close up showing the males beak grabbing the females head feathers

From the covered little area chosen by the female the wings of the male flap against the branches as they breed in a tight space.Once the male has flown off upstream the female stands looking downstream and prunes her feathers as the sun lifts higher in the clear sky.After only a few minutes the male can be heard just a few metres upstream he is calling loudly which makes the female become very excited her wings quiver very fast and almost hopping on the spot she looks towards the male who is flighting in a short distance from her with a fish gripped in its beak.Awkwardly the male lands in front of her on a lower branch he passes her the fish before moving away by a couple of feet as she feeds on his capture of what looks to be a trout parr.

An awkward angle

The back of the males wings can be seen as he gives the female a fish.

Awkwardly the male moves away from its cluttered position from where it fed the female its wings clatter the array of branches that hem the bird in.As the morning progressed and the sun became intense both birds looked for shade and both fed themselves from a good distance apart.

The male in a shaded area.

A busy Male.

The 10th of April 2015 saw a cold misty morning on the river Caldew with frost in the grass and the dense blanket of mist on the water rolling from the fields that stretch down to the river.Pouring over the deep cut bank through the fields that the river has shaped and rived at the earth the mist hangs in the still cold air the sun not yet lifted over the horizon every bird call sounding peircingly loud and clear in the stillness of the crisp morning.Once the huge red ball starts to appear above the river bank the mist slowly starts to become less dense the opposite bank starts to become visible with the yellow colours of the newly flowering Pussy Willow being softly iluminated by the first light.The sun now lifts fast its strong rays cutting through the mist sending shafts of light across the stream where a male kingfisher stands high up amongst the Pussy Willow where he looks down into the gin clear water. 

Amongst the Pussy Willow

The mist lifts higher from the water where out of nowhere a rush of chittering bird call fills the air the Kingfisher glances up disturbed by the new call as it sees a group of newly arrived sandmartins enter the territory they move actively and swiftly along the sandbanks where they nested last year.With a hive of activity along the bank with the Sand martins filling the sky the Male Kingfisher patiently waits for a fish from his high position in the Willows with no sign of the Female.After a few brief dissapearances the Male returns to the willows where he promptly catches a Bullhead close in to the bank.Once the fish is grabbed it is taken to a favourite low branch where he stands calling loudly with the fish in his beak.

Calling to let the female know a fish is caught

Standing calling the male doesnt hear any response so with the fish still gripped in its beak he moves to other branches calling loudly.

Moving through the branches with fish

The male bird stayed active until the early afternoon then the activity slowed.

The Kingfishers of a small stream

Rising as a mere trickle through Wavergillhead in Cumbria the Townthwaite beck starts its life as it ends it as a very small stream the river Waver.This tiney beck makes the Eden look like the Amazon river! it twists and turns as it swings close to Wigton on its way to the Solway where it empties out into the Moricambe Bay an inlet of the Solway Firth.This small stream that runs across flat low lieing land for most of its length is home to a wealth of diverse wildlife of which the Kingfisher is one of its residents. 

A Waver Kingfisher

Standing on its favourite perch the female Kingfisher looks to the shallow stream where the intense early sun beats down onto the clear water.The morning starts to warm up after a frosty start where the tracks of a resident Fox slowly disapear as the dew starts to dry on the fields that run alongside the narrow river that flows in its steeply cut channel.Both Kingfishers that have paired up call to each other in soft notes not needing to call in a high pitched loud tone as the small stream flows peacefuly unlike the wide stretches of the Eden where they need to call loudly so they can hear each other above the flowing water at a greater distance from each other.The deeply cut narrow channel is an ideal habitat for the Kingfisher which uses its sandy bank at this time of the year to nest in and with the many twists and turns on its travels to the solway it makes great territories for the population of kingfishers along its length.

Looking down from the steep sided bank

As the sound of the Lapwings call out and the cry of a distant Buzzard hauntingly echoes across the fields the life of the Kingfisher plays out along the small stream.

Male clutching a fish

Action as they sit on eggs in late May...

A wet May along the Caldew has seen a number of small floods that have swiftly passed down the system causing small disturbance to the pair of Kingfishers that now sit on there first clutch of eggs in a bank high enough to of missed the rushing water.Watching the sudden bursts of action as they feed downstream from the nest site the following images show the activity that takes place between the two birds that take turns to incubate the eggs....

After flying downstream from the nest this female rests after her long night of sitting on the eggs she looks somewhat rough as she looks upstream ready to search for food.

As the days pass there full attention is sitting on the eggs they grab food when they can but it seems the female is doing most of the sitting as the male brings fish for her.

Preparing for a second brood on the first day of June

With the nest chamber now full of well developed chicks that move close to the tunnel entrance the two adult birds start to concentrate on the second brood as they adapt new courtship displays to one another.Its not long until the male is feeding his partner just like he did prior to the first brood being laid in the nest.This is swiftly followed by copulation inbetween the two birds keeping there young fed further downstream at the nest site.

The feeding act

With loud calls to one another the fish is given to the female before the male scurries away to the far end of the well used branch.

The Male looks on

Having given the female a reasonable sized trout parr the male stands back and watches as she gulps the fish her first feed of the day.

Copulation

Once the female consumed the fish the male called loudly before flying onto her at speed then copulation took place lasting several seconds before the male took off upstream to continue his search for fish for the young that call from the nest site.