Tim Melling – Ringed Kingfisher


The scientific name of the Ringed Kingfisher is Megaceryle torquata which translates (roughly) as Megakingfisher with a collar. The white collar is also the feature that gives rise to “Ringed”.   It is found throughout Tropical America but occurs right down to Teirra del Fuego.  It is the largest Kingfisher in the Americas, even bigger than the Belted Kingfisher of North America.  Like most Kingfishers it nests in a hole in a riverbank which it excavates itself.  I photographed this male (females have a broad blue breast band) in Brazil’s Pantanal region.

Taken with Nikon D500 Nikkor 300mm f4 lens with 1.4 converter  f5.6        1/2000 ISO 1000



Saturday cartoon by Ralph Underhill


Paperback now published


Behind the Binoculars is now out in paperback – even better value.

Funnily enough, a second volume of interviews, Behind More Binoculars, is also approaching publication.  More on that later.



Your choice

There is a new category in the Bird Photographer of the Year Awards this year – and you get to choose the winner.

30 excellent photographs that didn’t make the shortlist can be viewed here and the one with the most ‘likes’ by 21 March will win £250 and will be published in the book of other winning photographs.

There are some gorgeous images in this selection and, remember, these are all images that weren’t shortlisted!



Toad all success?

Photo: Edwin Kats

The Solway Firth is the only area of Scotland with Natterjack Toads and one of the area’s important sites is the Mersehead RSPB nature reserve where storms damaged the dunes where the toads hibernate in 2013.

New shallow ponds were created across the site for the toads to breed in.

In spring 2014 there were around 30 breeding male toads counted at Mersehead and last year there were 150. With the help of Dr Pete Minting from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC), the RSPB set up a ‘mugshot database’ of Natterjack Toad photographs during the surveys, to ensure that the same individuals were not being counted night after night. Each toad carries a unique wart pattern and yellow ‘racing stripe’ on its back – which together, act much like a human fingerprint.

Females are more difficult to survey than males, because they only visit the ponds for a couple of nights a year to lay their eggs, but there has been plenty of toad spawn which shows that the population is thriving.

James Silvey, RSPB Species and Habitats Officer, said: ‘It’s fantastic to see that the natterjack population is responding to the habitat management we’ve put in place. The evidence of toads breeding in three of the five ponds we made for them in 2015 is a real highlight. Natterjack populations are declining across most of their range in Scotland due to climate change and inappropriate management, making the population at Mersehead all the more important. We’ll be continuing our work for these amphibians over the coming years to hopefully increase their numbers even more.‘.

Natterjack Toad Epidalea calamita female.  Photo: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons