Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Patient Kingfisher

After a long and busy few days, I only had the energy/patience to spend a few hours along Dune Rd.  Unfortunately the tide was quite high, so the odds of finding interesting shorebirds (clapper rails, snipe, etc.) was low but the weather conditions were favorable for interesting birds at the inlet (light wind, clear skies, lots of visibility, etc.).  Well, the inlet had very little to offer - not even a flock of bonaparte's gulls would make an appearance.  So I sat patiently, waiting for a seal to pop up, or some Common Eider to fly by (see below) and enjoyed the company of several Red-Breasted Mergansers diligently diving under the icy water in search of food.

On the return back to Westhampton, I scanned the marsh and dunes for any of the 3 wintering Northern Harriers but found none.  Perhaps they prefer hunting when the wind is stiffer as they have to put fourth less effort moving miles up and down the beach.  Just when I had about given up, I spotted a Belted Kingfisher along the electric wires where it often perches, peering into the water below looking for a meal.  In my past experience, everytime I've come across a Kingfisher perched like this, it will fly down, then east or west to the next wire as soon as a car approaches/passes but this one seemed content (while keeping an eye on me) and let me get as close as I could while maintaining a decent angle on the bird.  The only problem with photographing this species when it perches along these lines is that they never face the roadway and a side-shot is impossible because the wire blocks most of the bird. So, I'm quite happy for this experience, as the Belted Kingfisher is one of the hardest bird species to get close-up shots of.  I just can't believe with that giant head/bill that they don't topple over when they are perched on a wire like this.

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