Getting Closer

18th February 2008
My luck seems to be changing for the better on the Owl front, I say 'seems' because I know it could all go pear shaped again very quickly.

Anyway, I'd booked the day off work and headed to Norfolk. The weather had been bad on the previous few days so the chances of Barn Owls flying about was good.
I arrived at first light and drove around my usual spots only to find that there were no Owls about! I couldn't believe it, all this way, perfect conditions and no Owls.

Another half an hour of driving about checking every spot where I had seen Barn Owls in the past still produced nothing!
Gutted, I pulled over at the side of the road to have a think about what to do or where to go next. The sun was now fully up and it looked like it was going to be a glorious day, which I didn't want to waste.
As I was still sitting by the side of the road sulking, a Barn Owl flew past my passenger window, crossed the road and sat on a post.
I quickly got the camera on the bean bag and drove slowly towards the Barn Owl, please don't fly off, please don't fly off I thought. Just as I got close enough it looked over it's shoulder at me and flew off, landing on another post further up the road.

I tried again but this time it took off before I got anywhere near it,headed back past me and landed on a post further behind me.
I needed to spin the car around but instead of doing a three point turn I backed onto the grass, big mistake! I was now stuck. Keep calm I thought you can get out of this. I gently rocked the car back and fourth, still no joy and the wheels kept spinning, after another ten minutes of this, the Barn Owl now out of sight I lost it..

Foot flat to the floor I went from 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear, the engine was flat out and bouncing off the rev limiter, smoke and great clumps of mud were flying all over the place off the wheels but I didn't care I just wanted out......
Finally the car lurched forward onto the road and stalled, I thought the gearbox had fallen out for a minute. I jumped out and checked the car over, all seemed alright although it was now covered in mud.

I headed back down the road hoping the Barn Owl was still about, luckly I found it about a mile further down still hunting from posts. By this time the light was getting really harsh and it was very unusual for Owls to be out this late in the morning but I was grateful for another chance of a pic.
When I approached the Barn Owl this time, it didn't seem to care about me being there and was happy to carry on hunting while I took pictures, although I was cursing the harsh light I was pleased to finally get close enough for some perched shots.







From time to time it still gave me the run around, flying past the car and perching further down behind me but I made sure I used a three point turn this time....





I was keen for another trip after this little session so as soon as the weekend arrived I headed over to Norfolk again. Unfortunately the Barn Owl didn't perform as well this time.
I found the same bird perched on a rusty post just as it was getting light. I pulled up close by but it flew off and landed a little way further down the road, the light was very low but I managed a couple of shots before it flew off and retired back to it's barn.



I drove around for a bit looking for more Owls but there wasn't anymore about. I did however spot a Stonechat that had a nice glow surrounding him from the rising sun, reminded me of the ready brek adverts from when I was a kid...



The following weekend my mate Phil and I headed over to the Norfolk coast with plans for photographing Barn Owls in the morning, then heading for the rock pools at midday for some waders and Snow Buntings before turning our attention back to Barn Owls in the afternoon.

We found one Barn Owl in the morning that showed well for us, passing us close by on a few occasions.





But the plans for the waders and Snow Buntings went out of the window, the place was packed solid with birdwatchers and other photographers.



This photographer made me laugh sitting in the middle of a frozen rock pool with his flask...



There was also a bit of the latest birdwatching fashion on show too..



We decided to head back up the coast and pass our time away getting flight shots of Gulls while we waited for the afternoon for another chance for some Barn Owls.





The afternoon hopes of more images of Barn Owls faded with the sunset, we did get some good views of the Owls though. Plus we found some new areas which went into the satnav for future trips but we never got anymore images so I'll have to wait for next weekend now.