I have heard many times that if you want to photograph something well then you need to study your subject. In Nature this becomes even more important in my thinking, as most of my subjects are moving living creatures. My focus of late has been on the kingfishers (kotare) and in the short time that I have been photographing them I have learnt a lot about their behaviour.
Kingfishers are territorial. From a photographers point of view this is fantastic as it means they will always be in the same place when they are out fishing. Another important fact is that they are very skittish and don't like you to get very close to them at all. One step too close and they are gone!
One of the most interesting things about the kingfisher that I noticed last night when I was out taking these images, is that they don't like to eat whole crabs. Once they have caught the crab they will fly back to a branch, usually a substantial one, and then bash the crab from side to side on the branch or log.
They are not trying to kill the crab, they are removing its legs so they can swallow the body. I found this behaviour fascinating to watch. I am sure if you went and looked under the logs you would find a huge amount of discarded crab legs.
Another interesting thing I noticed last night was that the kingfisher wags its tail like a dog when it is scoping out the area for food. When the tail wagging stops, then the camera needs to be ready because it is about to take off. I am finding it easier to predict their movements purely from observing their behaviour patterns.
If there is one thing that is essential when photographing kingfishers, it is patience. They work a circuit within their territory so when one area has been fished, they will move on to the next. If you try and follow them you will end up losing them completely. It is much better to find yourself a comfy seat and wait for them to return to you.