Photographing the Kingfisher in Paradise

Photographing the Kingfisher in Paradise


There aren’t many birds that anybody would acknowledge at a look. Many teams of birds are so inconspicuous, the variations between species so refined, and their behaviors so mysterious that even nature lovers battle to determine them. Kingfishers are totally different. As quickly as you study what a kingfisher seems like, you’ll all the time be capable to acknowledge this beautifully-colored fowl ready on the water’s edge. However within the jungles across the equator, even the kingfisher has tailored in some stunning methods. Meet the Paradise Kingfisher.

Let’s journey in phrase and picture to the humid tropical forests of Papua New Guinea and the Cape York Peninsula in Australia. That is the habitat of the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher (Tanysiptera sylvia), which differs in some ways from the frequent kingfisher. Right this moment, I’ll share with you the fowl’s “liklik stori” – that means “little story” within the Papuan language Tok Pisin.

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Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher (Tanysiptera sylvia). NIKON D500 + 560mm f/4 @ 560mm, ISO 1000, 1/320, f/4.5

Many kingfisher species, particularly tropical ones, reside their sedentary lives in the identical habitat during which they have been born. That’s the primary approach the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher differs from different kingfishers. Certainly, it’s a very succesful traveler, making an annual journey of as much as a number of thousand kilometers from Papua New Guinea to its breeding grounds in Australia. The lengthy wings (about 35 cm / 14 inch wingspan) that gave this kingfisher its scientific identify definitely turn out to be useful for touring such distances.

However even with lengthy wings, it isn’t straightforward to cross the 150-kilometer / 93-mile vast Torres Strait that separates Papua New Guinea from Australia. The waves of the ocean will mercilessly swallow those that usually are not sturdy sufficient to fly continuous throughout this huge expanse of water. The Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher undertakes this migration in flocks in the dark. One morning in October or November, the birds will instantly seem on their breeding grounds and start preparations for his or her upcoming parental duties.

Like many different kingfishers, Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers type everlasting pairs. Until loss of life do them half, because the saying goes. Nevertheless, there’s one uncommon characteristic right here, and that’s social cooperation. The breeding pair is often joined by one other male who helps look after the offspring. What profit does it derive from such altruism? It’s not identified for certain, however it’s thought that he might take the place because the “husband” if the feminine’s mate dies, and even for the chick after it hatches. What a priceless neighbor…

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The nest is normally in a termite mound on the bottom or simply low above the bottom. NIKON D500 + 560mm f/4 @ 560mm, ISO 6400, 1/250, f/4.0

One other evolutionary curiosity is the best way Paradise Kingfishers nest. Like different kingfishers, they dig burrows. However these aren’t, as regular, someplace in a steep clay financial institution on the sting of a stream or lake. Paradise Kingfishers have fashioned an alliance with termites of the genus Microcerotermes to make their properties – although this alliance is helpful to just one get together, the kingfishers. They use their beaks and toes to interrupt into the termite mound. There, they dig a tunnel that ends in a nest chamber, during which they lay three or 4 white eggs. The termites hold the entire construction sturdy and sturdy, and even present the fixed warmth wanted for profitable incubation of the eggs.

This brings us to a different peculiarity. The English identify “Kingfisher” means that the fowl catches and feeds on fish like a king. However with the Paradise Kingfisher, that might be mistaken. We’re within the tropics, and issues are totally different right here. Not solely does the Paradise Kingfisher not feed on fish, it doesn’t even hunt down the presence of water. Its fundamental meals consists of bugs, earthworms, spiders, snails, and frogs.

Let’s end this “liklik stori” with the final exceptional characteristic of the Paradise Kingfisher, which is definitely the very first thing that may catch your consideration – its look. There are not any main surprises within the shade of the plumage; right here the Paradise Kingfisher meets the strict aesthetic necessities we place on members of this group of birds. However have a look at the tail!

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Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher (Tanysiptera sylvia). NIKON D500 + 560mm f/4 @ 560mm, ISO 6400, 1/400, f/5.0

No different kingfisher on the earth has such a protracted and bizarrely formed tail. Actually, most kingfishers don’t even have tails to talk of. The Paradise Kingfisher, alternatively, is adorned with two 18 cm / 7 inch white streamers that make up greater than half of its physique size. The colour of the feathers merges right into a white patch on the fowl’s again, ending behind the neck. In its pure habitat, the flying kingfisher resembles a white line plunging into the deep inexperienced of the jungle. Attempting to {photograph} it’s like attempting to {photograph} an arrow in flight.

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Libor in paradise – Queensland, Australia. Picture: Tomas Grim

I don’t know if the phrase “paradise” within the fowl’s identify refers back to the jungles of northern Australia or these of Papua New Guinea. However one factor is for certain – this area has a suspiciously excessive variety of birds with the phrase paradise of their names. Maybe there’s nothing to do however to go there and see for your self if paradise actually exists. Simply don’t be discouraged by the comfortable swarms of mosquitoes and teams of leeches sharing this paradise with you.

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