I Spent 35 Days Trying To Capture The Captivating Kingfisher (27 Pics)


My name is Ruurd Jelle van der Leij and I’m a Dutch wildlife photographer and filmer. Over the past 35 days, I’ve spent more time in my shed than inside my house. The reason. I was working on a unique series of pictures of a kingfisher. The bird appeared in my garden a little over a month ago. It discovered the pond which contains a lot of fish. Before I had quite some experience with kingfishers so I knew that by placing a branch in the right place, I should be able to give the bird a nice fishing spot which was also easy to photograph.

And so it went, the bird kept coming back and after two weeks of filming the hunt and photographing it, I started a more creative approach. As kingfishers are a feast for the eyes, millions of pictures of the bird already exist. So I went for other angles like black and white, backlight and spotlight moments (lowkey) that only appeared one hour a day in that part of my garden. This shows the difficulty of taking all these pictures. When there was enough light for flight shots there was no bird and when the bird spend hours in a row in front of the shed, the sun was gone. These are the frustrating factors I always face during photography and film and you simply have to deal with it. When the trust was gained it was also very easy to replace the favorite branch of the bird for other branches or objects. This is where the book came in. A shot I knew would be nice to have and was not difficult at all to create anymore. After 6 hours, the bird showed up and without hesitation, it sat down on the book, even on the right page.

The most difficult was the underwater shot, but especially when you film a hunting kingfisher, you do want to know what happens once the bird enters the water. By creating a large setup with an aquarium I was able to film the catch and after a week of trying the photo was also acceptable.

After spending 3 years in the Dutch Wadden sea working with a team on the movie WAD, it is very satisfying to work in the garden with my kids around. In the past year, I photographed several species in front of the shed. All in their own setting. To me, the most challenging and satisfying part is not the birds but the setting.

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We are on the same page

Succesful dive

Black and light

Kingfisher pearched in one of the trees

King of fishing

Autumn

All in

Ballet

After eating all the fish the kingfisher drops a pellet full of fishbones

Another succesfull dive

Fresh fish

In the spotlight

Diving for fish

Silhouette

Shaking up its feathers

Collored dove

Common redpol

Young goshawk caught a pigeon

Great tit and blue tit

Green woodpecker

Jay

Blue tit meeting a great woodpecker

Robin

Siskin

Sparrowhawk

Strange bird

Wren

 

#1 We Are On The Same Page

#2 After Eating All The Fish The Kingfisher Drops A Pellet Full Of Fishbones

#3 Ballet

#4 Green Woodpecker

#5 Wren

#6 Wren

#7 Succesfull Dive

#8 Kingfisher Pearched In One Of The Trees

#9 Autumn

#10 Took This One For My Daughter Who Calls Our Favorite Garden Bird, Icecream Bird

#11 Short-Eared Owl In Autumn

#12 Iceland Gull

#13 All In

#14 Fresh Fish

#15 Diving For Fish

#16 Shaking Up Its Feathers

#17 Common Redpol

#18 Great Tit And Blue Tit

#19 Blue Tit In Autumn

#20 Jayminee

#21 Another Succesfull Dive

#22 Silhouette

#23 Collored Dove

#24 Trick Or Treat Or We Will Take Your Eyes Out

#25 Stone Curlew

#26 Owl

#27 Siskin

#28 Great Black Backed Gull Close In Flight

#29 Long-Eared Owl Producing A Pellet

#30 Lovebirds

#31 Coots

#32 Black And Light

#33 Jay

#34 Roller

#35 Jay

#36 Adult Caspian Gull

#37 Jay

#38 Sparrowhawk With A Siskin In The Garden

#39 Autumn Brings Nice Guests To The Garden

#40 Owl

#41 Eye Contact

#42 Flamingo Love

#43 King Of Fishing

#44 In The Spotlight

#45 Young Goshawk Caught A Pigeon

#46 Blue Tit Meeting A Great Woodpecker

#47 Robin

#48 Sparrowhawk

#49 Great Grey Shrike And Prey

#50 Following Bitterns For Ten Years But This Year For The First Time Swimming Close By

#51 Mother’s Day

#52 Stone Curlew

#53 Daltons

#54 Guillemot

#55 The Dead Guillemot Is Now Food For Gulls

#56 Corncrake Close To Our House

#57 Sparrowhawk With A Siskin In Dutch Light

#58 Short-Eared Owl Caught In Mid Air By A Great Black Backed Gull

#59 Appelvink Hawfinch

#60 Something With Black Today

#61 Bumperklever

#62 Hawfinch

#63 Yawning Gull

#64 Common Gulls Panic During Fireworkshow

#65 Diver In Low Key

#66 Jacuzzi For Birds

#67 Great Grey Shrike

#68 Jacksnipe Low Key




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