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01-30-2013, 07:55 AM   #1
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The Qingfisher Quest

I know I'm not the only one in pursuit of some decent shots of this easy to find (relatively speaking) but hard to photograph bird, so here's a thread to share futility and triumph. Thus far it's mainly futility on my end.

One of my local parks is a good birding spot with a mix of woods, meadow, stream, and ponds, with most of the human traffic along a single paved walking and bike path through the woods. The ponds are manmade (former water treatment plant) and shallow, and the largest one has a lot of standing snags, perfect for Qingfisher perches. And it has a resident male Belted Qingfisher (the only species we have here). There are two problems, photographically. First, the birds are truly wild, even the mallards. This is great, of course, especially for a suburban park, but the birds are as wary as any other wild birds and it is a real challenge to get close enough for good shots, even with the Q. Second, it is very brushy around the edges of the pond and viewpoints are scarce.

Yesterday's session was pretty typical. I started at the viewpoint that commands the widest view of the pond. Things were pretty quiet other than some Red-tailed Hawks at the far end. Scanning for the Qingfisher I felt quite certain would be there, I did some sweeping with the Q to no effect, then looked naked eye (forgot to bring binoculars) for any flashes of white. After a couple of misses, found him:

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DA* 300, uncropped

This is something like 160 yards (150 meters) away. Basically pointless to shoot from this distance but I had nothing better to do. Here's the 100% crop:

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I watched him from here for about half an hour, but he never left the tree, except for once when one of the Red-tails got too close. But he then returned to his perch. So, thinking that this might be one of his preferred perches, I set off to see if I could find a viewpoint on that end of the pond. Of course he left as soon as I was in the vicinity, but at least I was able to confirm which tree, and to find a reasonable spot. I stayed there for probably a couple of hours but no dice, although I got a shot of a pair of Hooded Mergansers I'm pretty happy with (posted elsewhere).

I had had better luck a couple of weeks ago, when the bird was more active.

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DA* 300, uncropped

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67% crop

But this was the only shot I got off before he flew off. Later that session he landed even closer, but all I did was turn my head and he was gone again.

So, show me your Qingfisher shots and fill me with raging jealousy!

01-30-2013, 08:03 AM   #2
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Great story and photos, that second shot is really quite good! I wish you luck on your Quest
01-30-2013, 09:11 AM   #3
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i'm just as frustrated...i feel like they purposely laugh at me and then fly by... #$%^&* bird...i will get you one of these days or will die trying
i see travis is looking for a duck blind to hide in...if that works i'm going to get me one




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01-30-2013, 09:23 AM   #4
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Tough birds to photograph, for sure. They're residents on the Fox River and fly over the house frequently, but trying to get a shot of them....
The times they perch a couple dozen yards from us (breifly) I never have the camera.



01-30-2013, 09:56 AM   #5
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Amy, those are really fine Q-i-f shots!

Terry, I can certainly relate to how these birds seem to have special knowledge of whether or not one is carrying a camera.
01-30-2013, 10:13 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
Amy, those are really fine Q-i-f shots!

Terry, I can certainly relate to how these birds seem to have special knowledge of whether or not one is carrying a camera.
baro thanks but want to see very feather on its head...in the future i plan to try the q and the 500 if he is sitting still but i want up close and personal...i've seen others who have been able to do that, just not sure how they can get that close...definitely a goal for this year!!!!
amy
01-30-2013, 10:55 AM   #7
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At least they're noisy and let you know when they're around!
01-30-2013, 11:34 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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Doen't want to make you jealous... but I was finally successfull in my kingfisher quest (FA*600 at work); took me a couple of years, though;





01-30-2013, 11:40 AM   #9
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Ooh, triply jealous! A stunningly colorful species of Kingfisher, stupendous shots using the full DSLR rig (I assume), and you have an FA* 600! Have you tried it on the Q yet?
01-30-2013, 11:44 AM   #10
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ok now i am officially jealous!!!! beautiful shots!!!!!!!!!
01-30-2013, 02:25 PM   #11
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I started my Qingfisher Quest Quite a while ago. . . around 2005 -- with sightings, but nothing to show for it until '06 with the DS, A* 300 f4+ F1.7x AFA -- got a couple of shots of one before it flew off cackling in derision. . . a significant crop. . .



Got another one the next year, this time with a Tamron SP 300 f2.8 + F 1.7x AFA. This was a significant crop also. . .



A little later, with a K10, SP 300 f2.8 + Tamron 1.4x Adaptall 2 TC + F 1.7x AFA, I got really lucky and this guy landed on a branch just to my right and up around 25 feet away. Couldn't believe it!!! These are full height vertical crops from a landscape frame. Got about 5 shots in before he took off. I was disappointed that I blew the white band despite setting Ev comp to -1, but they're pretty good, and I know the chances of an opportunity to shoot one of these guys this close is most likely not going to happen again. . .





Since then, the ops have been few and far between, even though I hear them often. The only shots I've gotten have been long shots, needing heavy cropping, like this one with the K20, FA* 300 f4.5 + F1.7x AFA



These little devils might know enough to stay away from cameras, but they don't yet know about the Q -- . . .heh heh

Scott
01-30-2013, 02:53 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
I got really lucky and this guy landed on a branch just to my right and up around 25 feet away.
Those are brilliant, especially #2 with that perfect catchlight and crest feathers on display.
01-30-2013, 05:42 PM   #13
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Man, if I could go back in time with the equipment I have now...

When I was a teen we rented a house with a pond out back that had green herons, great herons and a pair of resident kingfishers. Pretty much every day all summer long they'd be parked in the wild rose bushes on the other side of the pond at a distance of maybe 100 feet from the house. I could of raised a window and fired away if I had the gear back then.
01-30-2013, 06:03 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sagitta Quote
I could of raised a window and fired away if I had the gear back then.
No, they'd have known. "Ha, he has a camera this time -- let's fly!"
01-31-2013, 12:29 AM   #15
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So far I have only been lucky to get near a Qingfisher once, last year in Costa Rica on a rainy day.
This fellow was fishing from a pond that had formed on the side of the road.
I eased my rental car under his perch on the wires and took a few shots with the K-5 and DA*300.
He didn't seem to mind us being there.
Wish I would have seen him perched on a nice tree with some green foliage in the background.

All of the Qingfishers I've spotted around here are evil and sadistic.



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