When you document the nest of a woodland kingfisher for two long years in an attempt to snap the various delights delivered to the chicks… now that’s dedication! Amateur photographer Jan van Wyk was left speechless when a mouse appeared on the menu.

Known for his hundreds of entrancing kingfisher pictures, amateur photographer Jan van Wyk undoubtedly has a passion for these strikingly patterned birds. When Jan came across a breeding pair of woodland kingfishers two years ago at Loskop Dam in northern Mpumalanga, he set his sights on documenting their feeding patterns.

“Over the course of two years I kept a close eye on the nest and was often amazed at what the parents caught to feed their young. But I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw them catching a mouse. Few have seen this before, not to mention photographing the event. I know of one instance when someone witnessed something similar in Tzaneen [117km from the Kruger National Park’s Phalaborwa Gate],” says Jan.

Woodland kingfisher-Loskom Dam-Jan van Wyk-1

The woodland kingfisher manages to safely transport the mouse to the nest.

Woodland kingfisher-Loskom Dam-Jan van Wyk-2

Although the kingfisher is trying everything in its power to feed the chicks, the mousy meal was perhaps too big for the youngsters to stomach.

Woodland kingfisher-Loskom Dam-Jan van Wyk-3

The adult bird’s efforts prove unsuccessful and it flies to a nearby branch to contemplate plan B.

Woodland kingfisher-Loskom Dam-Jan van Wyk-4

Woodland kingfisher-Loskom Dam-Jan van Wyk-5

The life of a parent… Now exhausted, the kingfisher takes a break from his feeding duties – the dead mouse still firmly gripped in its bill.

Woodland kingfisher-Loskom Dam-Jan van Wyk-6

Determined, the kingfisher readies itself for another shot at feeding the chicks, which were by now loudly demanding food. According to Jan, parents take turns approximately every 15 minutes to fly meals to the nest.

Woodland kingfisher-Loskom Dam-Jan van Wyk-7

Success at long last! Jan says: “Isn’t it incredible that those little chicks can feed on a meal this big?”

Jan says he was fortunate that the adult pair used the same nest for two years. “Bird photography requires a lot of patience, being quick on the shutter and a bit of luck. I spent a lot of time at the nest and was rewarded with this once-in-a-lifetime sighting. The many early mornings and 1,200km travelled to visit the nest definitely paid off. You have only about three weeks to photograph feeding sessions after which the chicks are ready to leave the nest.”

Visit SANParks’s public forum page to see more of Jan’s striking kingfisher pictures.

All pictures were taken with a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV and 400mm zoom lens.