Kingfishers and Kookaburras! Vibrant in color, conspicuous in activity and often hilariously raucous, these are some of the most well-known and much loved birds in Australia! Kingfishers and kookaburras are a versatile group. Their colours range across the spectrum. They have adapted to rivers and deserts, to wet rainforests and dry woodlands, to mangrove swamps and islands. They catch lizards, snakes and spiders on the ground, dive underwater for fish, snatch frogs in the tree canopy, and take insects in full flight. — Online review notes of ‘Kingfishers and kookaburras: Jewels of the Australian Bush’, by David Hollands.
There are ten species of kingfisher in Australia. I’ve only seen a few of them, but recently laid eyes on a personal new species — the Red-Backed kingfisher (Todiramphus pyrrhopygia) on the Darling Downs.
Whether or not I’ve a camera in hand, it is always a thrill to watch kingfishers. The fleeting, dazzling blue of an azure kingfisher darting across a dark, quiet creek or a muddy mangrove bank seems to me to be like the last piece of a scene’s jigsaw falling into place.
I’ve always found these birds difficult to photograph. The best results, as is always the case, come with knowing your subject, having incredible patience, and often using a hide and having a big bit of glass stuck to your camera. I haven’t used any of these when it comes to kingfishers – I’ve always ended up in a muddle just snapping away, usually with fairly ordinary results. I did discover that you can get fairly close to kingfishers by using a canoe to sneak up on them – that’s how I took these images of an Azure Kingfisher (above) and a Collared Kingfisher (below) on Tingalpa Creek, where Brisbane’s outskirts meet Redland Bay.
Through patience and persistence, Mike Peisley has captured taken some excellent images of sacred kingfishers in his local patch of scrub in Brisbane.
Finally, here are some more images of these adaptable and exquisite birds using any available perch.
Challenging and enchanting subjects indeed. For anyone seeking a complete immersion in the magical world of Australian kingfishers, track down a copy of the book mentioned at the start of this post: Kingfishers and Kookaburras: Jewels of the Australian Bush, by David Hollands, is a book that truly captures the magic of these birds in all their variety.