Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Belted Kingfishers at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge and the Tuolumne River

I don't get a lot of sharp focused pictures of Belted Kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon). Just like any smart bird, they like to steer clear of humans (or at least me), especially those that patrol the Tuolumne River along the Parkway Trail in Waterford. I hear them constantly, chattering and complaining about me disturbing their territory. But I rarely get close enough for pictures.
We were at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge on two successive weekends, and along the Waterfowl Auto-tour, I saw the same Kingfisher perched on the wires above the irrigation canal at the south boundary of the refuge. The first weekend was overcast, and the picture (as usual) was a bit fuzzy, but the next weekend was sunny, and I finally got a picture I liked (at the top). The chestnut band across the chest marks this one as a female.

Later that week, I was on my usual river walk when I heard the familiar chatter coming from the inaccessible thickets at the western end of the trail. I spotted the male from the top of the stairwell and got this one relatively good shot, but by the time I got to the base of the stairs, it had flown away downstream.

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