By CleanSteve

Kingfisher outside its nest at Capel's Mill

My foot has been troublesome again and walking has been difficult, but I had to go to a meeting in town this morning. Once home and after a light lunch I couldn't resist the prospect of going to the local river at Capel's Mill where the River Frome drops over the former mill race in a leafy glade. I have been hoping to see the kingfishers who used to nest in the clay banks adjoining the river as it drops through the area called Fromebanks, which is now a nature reserve.

I parked as close as possible in Butterow Hill and walked down the track beside the railway leading to the footbridge over the river. As soon as I stepped onto the footbridge to cross to the north side where there is better access to the river I saw a white throated dipper fly away downstream.  So I knew that the dippers would at least provide some reasonable picture subjects.

In former years whenever I visited this spot I would always see at least one kingfisher as well as the dippers.  But since last summer I haven't seen one kingfisher despite many expectant visits.  I used to see the trails of their droppings in strategic places such as beneath their nest holes and on branches where they perch prior to diving, but there have been no signs at all.

Another dipper appeared on the far bank but stayed on the water's edge without moving position for at least thirty minutes. A wagtail flitted about prettily catching the light on its yellow feathers. Then I thought I'd glimpsed a brief flash of the brilliant blue of a kingfisher close to where the old nests are, but further careful watching showed nothing more.  A woman appeared on the footbridge with binoculars so I pointed out the two dippers which had by then joined each other on the far bank. She mentioned that she thought she had seen a kingfisher when approaching the river, but wasn't sure.  So I said that it probably was as I might have seen one too.  By now I was getting more excited.

She strolled away down the footpath through Fromebanks which I'd recommended as a pretty walk, and a virtually immediately a kingfisher appeared on the tree next to its nest. It stopped on the branch long enough for me to take this shot before flying up a couple of yards into its nest entrance.

From then on I saw it again several times, although much further away.  It stood on a branch overhanging the river then dived vertically down into the water and I caught  it flying up and back up onto its perch (I have included this as an 'Extra photo').  I have added a few of these pictures to this Kingfisher flickr gallery and included a couple of other scenes from the day including a wagtail flying over the water just in front of a dipper.

I will now return at a better time of day when the light is more directly onto its nesting area.  I also hope to try out a hi-speed flash to see if I can actually get some proper action pictures of its flight, at last.

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