Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Return to Yarrow

The weather has been awful for photography recently and, having a new lens to experiment with, I've been desperate to get out following a very busy January.  With the prospect of just a glimmer of sunshine, I decided on a return to Yarrow Valley Country Park near Chorley today, with the main target bird being the famous Kingfisher which has been posing for everyone it seems, except me!

On arrival I decided to skip my normal scanning of the main lake and head straight for the Kingfisher's favoured location. However, on the way my eye was taken by some Goosander on the lake, and when I counted them I found there to be five males and six females - the most I've ever seen here.  Later on I was told there were actually fourteen of them present.

Although I was first at the railings which overlook the small pool that the Kingfisher frequents, I was soon joined by a couple of the regular local bird photographers who I've seen there before. Today I learned their names, Dave Croasdale and Steve Cook, and they kindly provided me with loads of information about the birds in the Park.  Dave even told me what time the Kingfisher would be appearing and believe it or not he was pretty much correct!

My first shots were far from ideal, with the bird perched on the furthest branch in a dark area near the back wall of the pool and, after catching a very large fish which was probably a common Bream, it proceeded to slap it around quite a bit on its 'eating perch' which was behind quite a few other small branches.  It actually dropped the first fish it caught but here are two record shots of what it got on the second attempt.

After my first encounter I decided I was going to stick it out here for the day or at least until it rained, which the forecast did promise later in the afternoon. The light is never great in this pool, and today the generally dull weather didn't do us any favours. However it did brighten up from time to time.

After it had eaten, the bird would fly away to the river and wouldn't return for at least half an hour to an hour. At times we could hear it calling and there was definitely another bird in the area which we heard and very briefly saw.

I did take a quick walk along the River Yarrow up to the weir to look for the Dippers and Goldcrests on the way, but had no luck there. So the other birds of note today were this gorgeous, almost tame, Treecreeper and a Nuthatch which both were within touching distance as they came to seeds and nuts placed in a tree. I need to go back to get some better shots of these as my new 500mm lens is too big most of the time with the birds coming so close.

The Kingfisher returned quite a few times during my stay here and the best shots I got were on its very last visit for me today. The word is that it will probably soon be mating and it will then fly off up stream to nest and therefore it won't be seen for quite a while. So that's why I 'filled my boots' with shots as they say today.

I'll let this glorious bird have the last word.

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