Kingfisher on wooden posts in water with reflection
Kingfisher on wooden posts Photographed using a Nikon F801 camera with Nikkor 400mm lens and a Nikon 1.4x teleconverter rested on a bean-bag on window-sill of hide; taken at 1/500th second at f3.5 on Kodachrome 64 film rated at ISO 64 and processed normally; no filters used.

Mid-morning, high overhead diffused sunlight, June.

Brownsea Island Nature Reserve, Poole Harbour, Dorset, England.
This image was Highly Commended in the 'Composition and Form' Category of the prestigious international Competition BG/BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 1997.

The story behind the picture....

"This photograph was taken from a permanent (public) hide situated overlooking a non-tidal lagoon which forms part of the Brownsea Island Nature Reserve in Poole Harbour, Dorset, England, a few miles from where I live. The lagoon provides a breeding haven for numerous birds such as terns, gulls, waders and wildfowl. Wooden posts have been placed in groups here and there, partly as perches for terns and gulls but also to provide some protection for their chicks against attacks by birds of prey or Black-backed Gulls. One summer, I made several trips across to the island to photograph birds from this hide, especially shelduck ducklings which came right up to the hide feeding in the watery mud (see another story).

"On this occasion, I arrived at the hide to discover that the lagoon had been allowed to flood so that most of the previously exposed mud was now covered by a few inches of water. This meant that there were very few birds in the vicinity of the hide and the shelduck ducklings (and other wading birds) that I had hoped to photograph were far away feeding around the edges of the lagoon.

"The light was lovely, the sun being diffused by high, thin cloud, and there was virtually no wind, so the water surface was almost mirror-calm. I decided I had nothing to lose by employing the 'wait and see' technique of wildlife photography. After nearly two hours without any subject whatsoever coming into camera-range I was about to head off to look elsewhere when suddenly a Kingfisher landed on a single wooden post just 7 metres from the hide.

"Frustratingly, just as I got it in frame and focused it flew off and out of sight. I decided to wait and see again. About 15 minutes later, the Kingfisher (or another one) flew to one of a group of posts some 20 metres distant. I knew that it was well out of range for a decent image-size but noticed that there was potential for an interesting composition with the wooden poles and their reflections in the still water. One camera was already set up with the 400mm lens and the 1.4x teleconverter so I quickly framed and focused but immediately realised that the framing was too tight to get all the post reflections in.

"However, rather than remove the converter and possibly miss getting any shots at all, I decided to shoot first, composing as best I could, and change the converter if there was time later. I opted for the widest aperture setting on the lens to throw the closer poles well out of focus and to (literally) focus attention more on the (little) Kingfisher on the farthest post, with the added benefit of giving me a good fast shutter speed (1/500 sec).

"The Kingfisher glanced around a few times and then down at the water a couple of times and was on the post for a total of no more than about a minute, from landing to flying away again, and I managed to shoot six frames.

"I remained in the hide for another hour, during which time neither Kingfisher nor any other bird came within camera-range so I finally decided to leave the hide and look for pictures elsewhere..... three hours waiting, one minute of photography - c'est la vie!"

Geoff Doré

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