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Sunday, 10 February 2013

Barn Owls Again

Since my last visit to see the Barn Owls I have been watching the weather hoping for a dry weekend with little wind but this just has not been the case of late.

Friday afternoon I checked the weather again and it was low wind conditions but grey cloud and a chance of rain.  I decided it was worth the risk of the 4 hour round trip drive and just hoped it would stay dry.  Saturday morning came and I headed north leaving both the rain and snow behind me.

As I approached the area i slowed down whilst scanning the fields for any signs of the owls.  As I passed between two fields I saw a flash of white perched up right next to the road, great a barn owl perched up within meters of me.  I had made a massive mistake though, the camera was still in my bag on the back seat of the car, why oh why don't I learn to keep the camera on the passenger seat where I can quickly grab it.  By the time I got the camera bad off the back seat and the camera out of the bag the owl had flown off.

It didn't take long before I spotted the barny hunting in the field. I found a good dry spot to park this time after my last visit in the mud.  Whilst sitting in the car watching the barny I also noticed a short eared owl hunting further down the field, my luck was in for a change.  As the owls were still a little far off I decided to stay put in the car and just watch their behavior.  The barn owl eventually perched up on a post not too far away so it was time to get out of the car and take some pictures.

It wasn't long before the barn owl started hunting again but this time right in front of me.  This is the closest I have been to a wild barn owl and to watch them hunt so close to you is something rather special.


After approx 20 mins the barn owl then headed off to the next field.  I returned to my car as I had parked in between both fields giving me a good overall view.  Whilst watching the barn owl and short eared owl hunting I noticed another barn owl perched in the distance.  It wasn't long before both barn owls were hunting with also two short eared owls at the rear of the field.  I then noticed another barn owl perched on the hedge row and seconds after spotting this barny another flew into the field.  I now had 4 barn owls and 2 short eared owls all hunting together in the same field.  They were still mainly distant at this time so again I choose to stay in the car and watch them.  The last pair of barn owls didn't stay around for long and some headed off leaving the original pair together.  Again patience paid off as they started to hunt close by again and allowed me to get some further shots. 

I had now been at the field for just over 1 1/2 hrs and had taken plenty of shots but as all good things have to end so did this.  The rain came in and the barn owls took cover.  The short eared owls gave one last appearance before they also went down for cover.  

I sat in the car and had some lunch in the hope the rain would stop but it didn't so I headed back home but with a smile on my face.  So was it worth the risk and the 4 hour drive, oh yes.  Would I do it again, oh yes.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Short Eared Owls Again

With clear sky's and low wind predicted it was decided to venture up north to Worlaby Carrs.  When we arrived there were 4 SEO flying around but they were all very distant on the other side of the field.  We parked up and settled down in the cars waiting for one to come closer or even hopefully perched up.

After a few hours they started to come a little closer but still not really ideal.  Eventually one Owl did however decide to perch up.  A small drive down the lane and we were able to get a few shots, again it was some distance and as we got closer it decided to fly off :(

Things didn't really improve later in the afternoon as the owls were still favoring the middle of the field.  I did manage a few shots thanks to Ken for allowing me to use the 300mm and the x2 converter to give me some extra reach.  

I had the chance to visit Worlaby again later that week and was hoping to see them closer.  Same routine, owls were showing at a distance :( 

Just as I was thinking about leaving I noticed a single Shorty flying around close to the road at the other end of the lane.  A quick drive down the lane and got out of the car holding the camera.  The Owl was now hunting in a close by field but I decided to watch and wait.  Eventually the Owl headed my way through the long grass.  

It then decided to hunt right in front of me.  

It was great to watch the owl so close hunting and flying around and also gave me the chance to get lots of shots.  

The long drives and waiting in the cold really did pay off this time.  Can't wait to have the chance to see the great owls again. 

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Years morning at Cannock Chase

After getting to bed at 2.30 am and drinking far too much on New Years Eve I forced myself out of bed and out in the cold for a few hours.  The weather was good and we even had sun shine.  

The light in the wooded area's can give the bracken a lovely gold color so this is what we set up for.  

The usual suspect turned up as we were setting perches up.  I never get tiered of photographing Nuthatches.  

It was also a treat to have the Long-tailed tits turn up a few times.

We had spotted a pait of Jay's which kept coming close but never did come down to the seed.  This wasn't helped my the amount of people walking and dogs but that's always the way on New years day. 
A Treecreeper even gave us a quick visit.  At one point he was on the perch we had set up but just wouldn't turn around to us.  Oh well next time hopefully. 

All in all a good 3 hours in good light and one less hangover at the end.