Work Parties and Barn Owls.

06th March 2008
The last few weekends of Feb have been taken up with work parties on my local lake. We've had major problems with the water levels on the two lakes rising, due to a new housing development being built close by. Somehow this has effected the water table which in turn has caused the two lakes to become one.
It's also effected the stock pond where I photograph my Kingfishers, both lakes are now joined to this too.
Unfortunately there's a lot of red tape involved when it comes to pumping water so it's a case of fire fighting until the people with power get their fingers out.
In the end we decided to erect fences to stop the fish moving between the lakes.



As always there's some that just watch.. Lol..



The work parties did on the other hand give me the chance to see if the Kingfishers are still present, which they are!
I've set up a few perches for them so hopefully I can start a new Kingfisher prodject in the near future. I also wanted to try and capture the Great Crested Grebe's in their courtship displays but they were having none of it, moving out into the centre of the lake whenever I approached them.

Last years Swan cygnets didn't mind their picture being taking though, the early morning light and reeds reflecting on the water was a perfect match for their plumage.



I was hoping for a full reflection on this image but there were too many ripples on the water.





In the end they got bored of their picture being taken and went to sleep.



The weather has been a bit up and down lately and it always turns real nasty when the weekend arrives, sods law I suppose.
Anyway, I took a gamble on the weather last weekend with a trip over to Norfolk for another go at the Barn Owl's.
The forecast was grim, strong winds with the odd sunny spell.
The strong winds are not very good for Barn Owl's but with there being rain the previous few days before, the chances of them being out was still good. Barn Owl's don't normally fly in the rain as their feathers have no oil to protect them from the water, once water logged they lose their ability for silent flight which they need to hunt Voles, this can prove fatal for them. It's sad but many Barn Owl's die during long periods of bad weather due to starvation.

I arrived at my chosen spot and sat in the car scanning the fields for any sign of the Barn Owl's, the wind was a lot stronger than I had hoped for but the field did have a high hegde line which helped to shelter it slightly.
Thankfully the wait wasn't too long, two Barn Owl's came out and started hunting in the field opposite me.

I decided to stay in the car and shoot from the window resting the camera on a bean bag. This was a mistake, the wind was blowing straight into my face and with the Barn Owl's heading into the wind to hunt so all I was getting was their backs.





After an hour or so the Owl's vanished so I got out of the car and had a quick look at a few different spots. I settled for an area that I could crouch down in by some bramble bushes. This looked a lot better for getting some head on shots so I set the camera up on a tripod and waited for the Barn Owl's to re-appear.

It wasn't long before they came back into the field and I had the added bonus of some sunlight.







I had some great views of these beautiful birds hunting, they were using the strong wind to hang in the air like Kestrels



before pouncing down onto any slight sound in the long grass.



This Barn Owl managed to get a Vole, unfortunately this was some distance away from me so the image is a fairly large crop.







With the forecast of snow last week I popped down to my feeders to get some Christmas card Robin shots on a shovel handle, the snow came but never settled and the Robins just keep fighting so I can't get the relaxed pose with the puffed out chest I was after..



The Blue Tits and Great Tits seem to like the handle for a perch though.



Two birds with one stone...



Long Tailed Tits are still around in good numbers



as are Goldfinches.



On another note, a month or so back I was contacted by an artist Rebecca Lehmann http://www.rowantreestudios.co.uk/ Rebecca wanted to use my Little Owl image for one of her art pieces which I agreed to and she has now started to draw it. You can check the drawings progress on Rebecca's blog http://blog.rowantreestudios.co.uk:80/