I went to bed a full hour earlier with the firm intention of waking before dawn to see whether I could tempt a kingfisher to enter my field of view, but as I feared it was too early and I awoke after a mere three hours and then tried in vain to go back to sleep before the five-fifteen alarm went off, all I could do was doze.
As a safety net I had set my phone to back up the clock and I did not take advantage of the two minute snooze time, but got straight out, abluted and went downstairs to grab some cereal and a bite of toast and Marmite followed by marmalade and a sip from my pint of tea, leaving the majority for my later return.
I found that the cold wind and lack of sleep made carrying the tripod over my shoulder, the camera and lens round my neck together with the camera bag was hard going to walk along the canal to the reed beds and my chosen rendezvous.
It took fully five minutes to get set up, but even though I kept an eye out for my feathered friend, he was not to be seen – in the end not for another hour at least, though to be fair that was till he alighted on a branch; he did make a few fast runs past me training to match the flight of an Exocet missile! But I have never harboured the dream that I would catch a kingfisher in one of those flights – my eyes barely keep track, and to expect my hand and eye co-ordination to match that of a bullet in flight is beyond wishful thinking!
At last he landed on a branch all-puffed up as if he was just as cold as me, and I did react fast enough to just catch his departure, and note where he went. He was out of sight, but hearing a loud plop from the direction he had taken was a welcome sound, and I was rewarded by him alighting on the same branch with his meal and I succeeded in capturing the fish’s last few moments.
It was at least another hour before he returned, and by that time I was extremely stiff and cold, but he stayed around for longer this time, and sadly his successful fishing this time was behind numerous branches, as well as being beyond the traverse of my tripod head, because the only stable location was hard up against other branches.
I stayed for several more hours till my fingers were sore, my legs almost immoveable and the cold had reached my marrow! Whereas with my arrival I made it down in a single trip, I could not trust myself to do the scramble back up in less than three trips, and I felt very stiff as I took the long walk back to my car; The camera with its card of exposures seemed twice the weight! But mentally I was warmed by having got some shots that pleased me.