THIS year footage I gathered of nesting kingfishers was so ground breaking it was shown on TV’s BBC Springwatch.

My project began after a friend who has fishing lakes where kingfishers have nested for years agreed that I could photograph them there.

I spent a month turning a shed into an artificial bank with room inside both for a nesting chamber for the kingfishers and for me and my camera equipment.

The nest chamber replicated exactly what a kingfisher would build for itself. This consists of a long tunnel, which they dig with their beaks, which I recreated using a 5cm drainpipe as a mould.

This led to a globe-shaped chamber, which I made by covering a balloon with papier-mache.

I packed a mixture of cement, sand, peat, PVA glue and fine tree roots inside it to make it look as natural as possible to entice kingfishers to use it.

I used the same mixture to render the front of the shed which I curved at the top to mimic the overhang of a natural bank.

I transported it to the lakes and placed it onto a platform overhanging the water. Within four days a kingfisher was showing interest.

I stayed away for a few weeks to avoid disturbing it. At the end of March I watched a male kingfisher fly in circles higher and higher into the sky, then dropped and swooped past.

Kingfishers perform spectacular aerial displays when they are trying to impress a mate. Sure enough, a few days later I spotted a female.

Kingfishers are essentially solitary birds and so when they come together to breed they can seem quite offhand with each other. It was amusing watching their stiff, awkward advances.

At times there was an underlying hostility between them and at one point they actually tussled over a fish. Often these outbursts were the result of the female being a little too "forward".

The male seemed a little put out when she begged for fish before he was ready to hand his catch to her.

When at last they mated, he hovered over her calling for a moment before grasping at the feathers just above her eye with his beak in order to hold on.

A few days later I returned to the hide, switched on the monitor linked to a camera inside the nest box, and there on the screen was one perfect, white egg.

I couldn’t believe my luck as I gazed down at it, beautiful and shiny in a bed of fish bones and scales.

The following day I got to the hide well before dawn. I soon heard a peeping sound. It was the female in the willow tree. I held my breath. I knew how important this moment was.

If I had guessed correctly she was about to lay her second egg. She flew into the tunnel. I could hear her rustling as she made her way up towards the nesting chamber. The tip of her beak appeared on the monitor.

The tunnel was pitch black so she had to feel her way along the tunnel. She tapped her egg gently with her beak to locate it in the darkness before settling down on it. Her tail went up and down, as if she was labouring.

An hour later she stood up and prepared to leave the nest. She croaked as she left the chamber - and as she moved forward I noticed there were now two eggs in the nest.

It’s hard to describe my feelings at having been just one metre away from a laying kingfisher.

She went on to lay seven eggs in total, one a day, at roughly the same time each morning.

After the last egg was laid she took turns to brood the clutch with the male. It was nice to see that the bond between this reluctant couple had at last forged.

Kingfisher eggs usually hatch 20 days after the last egg is laid. All I had to do now was wait.

Look out for my column next month when I continue the story.