Mission to capture Bluebell Walk’s Kingfisher resident


Mission to capture Bluebell Walk’s Kingfisher resident

By Paul Gibson, Editor of Hailsham News.


I’ve been visiting The Bluebell Walk and Bates Green Gardens for a few years now and been lucky enough to work with owner, John, on a number of films and spend a great deal of precious time in woods.


In the preparations to open the woods for this season, John happened to tell me a Kingfisher had been spotted at the Lower Lake, so as a keen photographer, I couldn’t let the opportunity go to photograph this stunning bird, which in fact, has always been a dream of mine to even see a Kingfisher!


With the mission set, I had just ten days to capture my dream image, so I didn’t waste any time in getting down to the lake to firstly see if the residents were active, if they live and hunt there and to see if they had a routine.


Kingfishers are notoriously shy and difficult to spot. If you’re walking near a lake, you may be lucky enough to see a bright blue and red flash as they find their next perch to hunt from. Seeing them perched up is an incredibly rare sight.


So, with a flask of tea and a bag of food, I set up camp on one of the beautiful seating areas at the lake. It didn’t take long for the Kingfisher to show itself. On the first day of monitoring, it was difficult to see a pattern, or where it hunts from, although, I did see it land on a ladder that John had laid across to the Island, so at least I knew, it was interested in the lake.


On the second day I went there, I took along my camera equipment which comprised of a Canon 5D DSLR camera, tripod and long 600mm lens, specifically designed for wildlife photography.


Without confirming a regular perching spot, it’s almost impossible to get a photograph of a Kingfisher, as you can’t simply just swing the lens around wherever you see the bird. The key is to set the camera on the exact spot you know it will land. However, on this visit, I captured a photo of a male Kingfisher sitting in the bushes on the other side of the lake, but it wasn’t an image I was happy with.

Canon 800mm lens from HireaCameraIt was time to get serious. I decided to hire one of the best wildlife photography lenses on the market to make sure I made the most of this opportunity. I got hold of a Canon 800mm lens from HireaCamera based in Mayfield. So, with the best equipment available, all I needed was a bit of luck and more skill to get what I needed.


By the forth day of going to the lake, I was confident we had a pair after seeing a female Kingfisher on the ladder looking to hunt. The female is recognisable by a lower red flash on her bill.


Buzzard soars high above Bluebell Wood. ©PaulGibsonOn this day, I had a total of nine encounters with the bird, but I simply wasn’t quick enough to photograph it, as they only spend a second or two in one place. It’s so difficult when waiting still and silent for it to arrive, not to be distracted by the Red Kites and Buzzards souring above the tree line and other birds that visit the lake. I had a mission, and I had to stay as focused as physically possible on the task in hand - although I couldn’t resist in swinging the camera round to capture some other wildlife shots.


Little did I know, but my fifth visit was going to be the day I walk away with the photograph I dreamed of. I actually started the day with not much hope, the sky was patchy, the lake felt very quiet with not much action from anything.


I almost felt time was running out and because the Kingfisher had not had a successful hunt from the ladder perch, I started to feel it wasn’t returning, as they easily give up on spots that don’t provide much food.


I was literally about to give up for the day after not one sighting and was minutes from packing up and leaving. Suddenly, the iconic red and blue flash appeared to my left and landed on part of the ladder it hadn’t done before - almost like an invitation to stay longer.


As I slowly moved the camera towards this position, the Kingfisher flew to a higher branch where it sat for a total of two seconds. But, thanks to a fast finger, excellent light and superb camera equipment, I got the shot!The hero shot of a male Kingfisher at Lower Lake. ©PaulGibson


I’m delighted with this photograph of the male Kingfisher in all his glory and share it with the visitors of The Bluebell Walk. Do keep your eyes very peeled if you want to get a glimpse of these beautiful birds - you will need to be very patient indeed!


This message was added on Monday 10th April 2023


Lovely kingfisher! /Wendy dudeney

Love your photo! We have had really good views of them at hastings alexandra park in town! Not seen lately but sure soon will! Great work !

Very well done!/Adrian Backshall

That’s a lovely image with the blurred background, I admire your patience...


I am fortunate enough to live near lakes and have a pond in my garden. The Kingfisher is a fairly regular visitor to the pond. I feel very lucky and privileged to have seen this beautiful, shy bird on numerous occasions. I would never have the patience to sit for days waiting for a look. A beautiful photo of a beautiful bird.

Excellent !/Alan Saltmarsh

Well worth the time and effort ! Well Done !!

Thank you for sharing/Judith Barnett

Brilliant - so pleased your patience was rewarded. I "saw" one fly passed once at Barcombe Mills. Just a flash!

Flash of blue/Sylvia

Absolutely exquisite and magical. We had the river Line running through our property and in the 5 years we were there on one day only I saw the flash of blue of a kingfisher, it made my year! Your photo can just make me imagine and dream. Well done

Feel free to leave a comment

All comments will be reviewed and may not be published

If you have a general question please use the 'contact us' form