Birthday Lunch

Keith’s birthday. that is: today. Keith doesn’t “do” birthdays. Keith doesn’t do birthdays so much that he doesn’t even know in which month his parents birthdays fall. Curious. In order not to do Keith’s birthday today, since it was a good day for walking (i.e. dry) we all sauntered two miles along the Grand Union Canal to The Three Locks where Keith & Marlene very kindly treated us to some jolly fine burgers washed down by a drink or two. Thank you very much, Keith & Marlene.

We sauntered the two miles back along the canal and sat briefly on our patio where those unaccustomed to walking four miles in one day began to recover.

On the house above our patio we have a nesting box. It is currently the scene of some frenetic feeding activity by our resident blue tit and its partner. I say resident because, above our patio, in addition to a nest box, we also have a bat box in which one of our nesting pair of blue tits roosts. It has been roosting in our bat box for several years. We know it is the very same blue tit because it has a distinctively misshapen chest stripe. We suspect that Zigzag Chest is a male because of his apparent territorial displays and his still flying around during incubation.

Fortunately the desire to keep delivering a constant supply of food to their young seems to overcome the blue tits’ fear of us so I took the opportunity to set my camera up on the patio mounted on a tripod and armed with “The Beast” complete, for the very first time, with its 1.4X extender. The extender forces the use of manual focus but, with my subject being a fixed target, this constituted an ideal situation.

My first shot proved that I needed fill-in flash – thank Darwin for digital preview screens. I added my flash gun to my growing array of deployed camera equipment. Another few shots indicated that I could benefit from a stop or so of under-exposure. Eventually I was getting shots with which I was comfortable. I clicked away for half an hour or so then left the diligent little nesters in peace, with thanks.

IMG_5017Blue_Tit IMG_5006Blue_Tit IMG_5008Blue_Tit IMG_5015Blue_Tit Once loaded on the computer and reviewed, I was very pleased with the results from The Beast plus extender. [Let’s use Java nomenclature and call this combination TheBeast++.] On the RAW images, the blue tits’ individual feather filaments show very nicely and, of particular interest I think, is being able to see the food items being delivered to the nest. Hopefully these smaller JPEGs are nearly as clear. I’ve reproduced one shot (far right) that isn’t the greatest line up but it does clearly show, grasped in the blue tit’s beak, the legs, body segments and wings of some hapless flying creature about to become lunch for junior. The images are full frame, just squared off to remove irrelevant sides.

Happy birthday Keith and well done TheBeast++.

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