Owl Patrols

15th March 2010
It's that time of year again! As you all know I love to photograph Owls and the best months to do it are from December to March but the really bad weather we had put a lot of pressure on our wildlife. Barn Owls more than any of the other Owls tend to suffer the most during long periods of bad weather and this was starting to worry me.

I'd taken every opportunity the weather gave me to visit my Barn Owl sites but I was only seeing one or two Owls and normally with a break in the weather there would be a few more than two out, also they would fly about hunting for most of the day and this wasn't happening.
I began to think that the bad weather had taken it's toll on them and their numbers were very low. I kept plugging away but only managed a few shots during the cold snowy period which was my own fault really. Waiting in the wrong areas didn't help but to be honest I didn't want to put pressure on them as it was tough enough for them without having me chasing them about, I just wish the same could be said for some of the other photographers.

This image could have been so much better if it had all of the snow covered grass in it but I just wasn't ready when the Barn Owl turned up and hovered in front of me. Doh!

For most of the visits in December/January I struggled with only a few flight shots here and there, most of them were against the blue sky which I'm not overly keen on

or they were flying away from me which is no good either...

In fact most of December and January was a complete waste of time with hardly any images of the Owls. I was starting to think the site was finished at least for this year anyhow but I was determind to see it through until the end of Feburary. I was hoping once the snow had gone and the weather improved a little bit things might look up.

Thankfully I was right and by mid Febuary I was starting to see more Owls at the site and my luck had started to change too, at last! The Barn Owls were spending much more time out hunting and I managed to capture plenty of flight shots.

As I said I'm not overly keen on blue sky backgrounds but I was pleased with this image.

My main aim was to get more images of them hunting from fence posts. Over the years this has proved very difficult for me but this year there has been two birds, a male and a female that have been very approachable. Normally I'd get the odd image before the bird took flight but these two particular birds seemed very relaxed and allowed me to pull up along side them and take their pictures.

Light plays a very important role in an image and the first two post shots were taken quite late in the morning when the sun was well up and bright but this next one was taken in that lovely pink light you get at dawn.

It only last for about fifteen to twenty minutes so I was lucky to get an Owl pose for me in that time. This next shot is of the same Owl some twenty odd minutes later in completely different morning light.

Last but not least, a late afternoon shot..

All in all I've had a very productive Feb/March with the Owls and I had the added bonus of a Short Eared Owl turning up and putting on a show. SEOs are very nomadic and can suddenly turn up in an area, stay for a few days and then disappear. Fortunately for me I was in the area when this beauty came along.

I would really like to get some shots of one of these birds on a post but they will be heading back up north or across the channel soon so time is running out, plus you really need to be in an area where there are plenty of them on a regular basis. This will be my next winter project for 2010/11 if I can find a winter SEO site..

Thanks for looking.