Yeeessss At last!

18th April 2010
At long last I finally managed to capture a Barn Owl with a Vole. It hasn't been easy and at times very frustrating but it finally came good.
The biggest problem I faced was the Kestrels, they constantly hassel the Barn Owls for their hard earned capture and nine times out of ten they steal the Vole from the Owl.
I can't tell how many times I witnessed this as I've lost count but I did manage to capture one such encounter and although the images are heavy crops they will show what the poor Barn Owl has to put up with.

This was going on all the time and it had another effect on the Owls, everytime they caught a Vole they would gulp it down as fast as possible, giving me no chance to capture it.

Most of the time this was the closest I could get before it was gone

or when I was close enough they never caught one.

My luck finally changed with a female Barn Owl I had been watching one morning, although it was a very close call and I nearly fluffed the shots. I'd been watching her hunt from post to post and I'd been trying to get shots of her perched but every time I pulled up she would fly off to a post further down the road. I sat back for a while and watched her, suddenly she dived off the post into the grass. She was down for quite a while so I pulled up near to the spot and got the camera ready. She popped up out of the grass and landed on the post but unfortunately without a Vole. Something had caught her attention though and she was staring intensively into the long grass.

All of a sudden she dived in again and this time she had caught a Vole. I was praying she would land on a post with it because I couldn't get a clean shot of her in all the long grass. But what I wasn't expecting was her to land on a post right next to me! Panic set in, I just couldn't fit her in frame, that's the downside to big prime lenses you cant zoom out. I fluffed the first few shots and I had to get my composer back quickly before she gulped it down or flew off with it. I grabbed a few shots but she was way too tight in frame for my liking,

in the end I pulled the lens back into the car with just the lens hood resting on the bean bag and I lent back as far as I could to get a better composition.

This is my favourite image from the encounter.

A close up of this beautiful bird, she got a bit wet in all that long grass..

It was all over in a few seconds and after taking a quick look at the images on the back of the camera I was very pleased and thankful I hadn't fluffed them all. I didn't care what happened for the rest of the day and when I got home and looked at them properly on the pc I was over the moon. Without doubt the best images I've taken of a Barn Owl to date.. :-)

Staying with Barn Owls, my good friend Phil and I put a few more boxes up the other day. Phil's wife Colette is expecting their first baby in a few weeks and her midwife happens to live on a farm.
Phil had a word with her about putting some boxes up in a few barns around the farm and she was all for it. They are also joining the stewardship scheme for farms next year, this involves leaving nice big margins around the field edges which will help all sorts of birds and insects as well as the Barn Owls. Lets hope more farmers join this scheme before we lose birds like the Skylark,Yellowhammer,Lapwing.. the list could go on and on but you get the point.

Here's a few pictures of Phil putting the boxes up..

In the hay barn..

The grain barn..

Thanks for looking.