My route had many junctions and I almost missed one as its landmark pub was obscured in the mist. I arrived at Tringford with darkness still prevailing, I parked up and put together my Giottos tripod and Lensmaster gimbal head, and had already put the Canon 100-400mm lens with 1.4 converter, and slung my 5D MkIII with 35mm f/1.4 around my neck and set off along the path that lay between Startops End lake and Marsworth lake. The Canada Geese or Graylags were hooting and Gulls swooped in and out of the mist over the waters of Marsworth, as I headed along the Grand Union Canal towards the reed beds.
I made my way carefully and quietly down the bank to avoid creating a disturbance and began setting up the tripod, I had nearly completed when a quiet voice behind me said he had waited for me to finish before alerting me to his presence in case in fright I was pitched into the water! I don't think he realised how true was his statement, for had he spoken at normal volume, I would have jumped clean out of my skin! He introduced himself as Andy, and much later as Andy Brown, and I learned we shared a mutual friend in Mervyn.
My eyes have started to degrade more rapidly of late and this has resulted in my having two very different prescriptions for distance and close work, and today for the first time since my latest glasses, I found that the pair I had chosen which allowed me to view the review screen well were very far from being useful in spotting kingfishers on the far bank, and on this occasion I was indebted to Andy who was clearly able to spot them. I think I am going to have to bring both pairs with me in future, which was not the case before.
As the light slowly improved we both began shooting at high ISO and fairly wide apertures, and it soon became apparent that my decision to check out using a converter on the 100-400mm lens was far less effective than using my 150-600mm lens on its own, so that experiment was a failure! The main reason being that in this low light auto focus was both very slow, and sometimes simply not happening. The advancing light certainly improved the quality of images I was able to get – I was bitterly disappointed with the vast majority of the early shots, and only rising to barely acceptable towards late morning. Another experiment was using the onboard flash of the 7D MkII, again way under-powered to work efficiently, but it did seem to have a beneficial side effect, in that it seemed to make the kingfisher show interest in us!
After Andy had headed off to work for a Conference call, a pair of wood pigeons began courting, and since I had built up an interesting sequence, I have put these in a separate gallery. (click the underlined text above to link to the gallery).