Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kingfisher Fishing

Morning fog has burned off. Cool. Air barely stirs. We’ve parked along the edge of a small pond to watch a kingfisher. Usually kingfishers keep their distance from humans, but this one hunts a pond at Wildlife Safari, the large drive-through animal park where we volunteer. The slow traffic driving through the park has ‘softened’ him for us. We are close enough for my husband to photograph and for me to sketch with binoculars.

The kingfisher peers intently into nearly still waters. He is perched on one of the half dozen snags that are in or near the pond. His body language tells me he is hunting. Ever alert, he looks down into the water. Fifteen minutes on one perch was unproductive, so he moves to another. Up comes his head and he stretches his neck out and fluffs his crest. I wonder if something other than prey has caught his attention. That isn’t his normal about-to-dive pose. Perhaps a salamander is swimming beneath him, or a turtle. When he finally dives, he slicks his crest back and drops like a bullet into the water.

Success! It is a small minnow, just an hors d’oeuvre. He flies back to his perch for a quick gulp. Dow the hatch. He soon flies to another perch, and another. Fishing is slow today.

Sketched and inked on location. Watercolor added at home. It wasn’t until I looked at Dale photographs that I realized it is a young male. He blue belly band is flecked with a smattering of rusty feathers. …. Elva Hamerstrom Paulson


  1. I have only seen a few kingfishers in my life...a very busy one when we were in the Ozarks this fall though! You really captured the stance...

  2. Elva, I love this! One of my favorite waterbirds. Love their chatter and bad feather days. Beautifully captured!

  3. Beautiful sketches, Elva. You captured the essence of kingfisher! Note: This is one species where the female is flashier than the male. The male has no belly band; it's the female that sports the rust on her belly.


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