A Date with a Big Bill

Stork-billed Kingfisher by Alex Vargas, Thailand 2012

by Alex Vargas on September 16, 2012 · 1 comment

in Birding Asia, Digiscoping & Bird Photography

The Stork-billed Kingfisher is one of the largest and most difficult -to photograph- Halcyonidaes of SE Asia… We got lucky as one mom was feeding two chicks in a park in Bangkok (yes! right into the city!)

Kingfishers are very special and colorful in Asia. Everyone wants to photograph kingfishers and they are not easy. But for me, they even mean more than beautiful birds and awesome targets… they mean BIG motivation… not for me, but for my wife who loves them above all birds and everytime I get my gear ready about to go, she will tell me: “bring me one”…
All of us (birders and bird photographers… husbands and parents) know well how important that is in order to “finance” your next expedition and I’ll go the extra mile for a kingfisher any and every time!… you bet!

I already have a pretty decent collection, however, the Stork-billed had eluded me for nearly a decade, and although I was very please to bring home some nice shots from Borneo, I was missing it in my Thai galleries… not acceptable!

Stork-billed Kingfisher (Borneo) – at night by Alex Vargas

So, when someone told me of a nest, in the outskirts of Bangkok, just 45 minutes away from our house, I did not waited and packed with my mind set to sit all day in my blind if that was necessary.

The nest -built on a termite nest- was low and right at the open, on the side of a canal at Puthamonthol Temple Complex. There was no shade for the poor chicks, as it wasn’t either for the poor photographers and both felt the heat from the early hours of an april morning!

Stork-billed Kingfisher - nest by Alex Vargas

Stork-billed Kingfisher – nest by Alex Vargas, Thailand 2012

There were some 8 blinds, but a couple of guys had no blind -as usually happens! grrr-. The mom, flu around a couple of times staying high up and only for a few seconds… what it was upsetting for real due to the excruciating heat and the continuous call of the chicks!

Stork-billed Kingfisher - high up by Alex Vargas

Stork-billed Kingfisher – high up by Alex Vargas, Thailand 2012

Finally the two guys agreed -by 11am!- to use my double blind -that I had in the car due to the same situation experienced in the past- and the show started right away! Mom came with a fish, landed in the branch next to the nest and all of us -chicks and photographers- enjoyed the morning better!

Stork-billed Kingfisher - with prey by Alex Vargas

Stork-billed Kingfisher – with prey by Alex Vargas, Thailand 2012

This bird will simply not stay more than a few seconds in one spot, so, sorry but no video this time!
However it landed quite close a few times…

Stork-billed Kingfisher - portrait by Alex Vargas

Stork-billed Kingfisher – portrait by Alex Vargas, Thailand 2012

…this will bring the chicks out, to remind us of how lucky we got, as they were already pretty big and pretty much ready to fly away…

Stork-billed Kingfisher - chicks by Alex Vargas

Stork-billed Kingfisher – chicks by Alex Vargas, Thailand 2012

Three days later, they were all gone for good!

Stork-billed Kingfisher by Alex Vargas

Stork-billed Kingfisher by Alex Vargas, Thailand 2012

 

Happy Bird-Photo adventures!

 

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