Saturday, December 05, 2015

Little Owl Evenings

With the skies outside a leaden grey and the trees being shaken to their roots by another winter storm that has just rolled in from the Atlantic, it good to turn thoughts back to some more benign conditions of the summer. I love the warm calm evenings of the early summer. The long hours of daylight mean I can pick a camera up after work and head out for a few hours and immerse myself in some wildlife. I spent many of those evenings this summer photographing brown hares but did use a couple to also try and photograph  the Little Owls my friend Steve had found last year. Photographing Little Owls is always great fun especially when its is a shared experience with a good friend, as what these birds lack in size they certainly make up for in terms of 'character'. Watching their antics always raises smiles.
On the first of the two visits we decided to make the bold move of getting out of the car to photograph them. All the photography last year was undertaken from the 'autohide' but we were keen to try and get some different perspectives. So while the owl was not there we got out of the car and sat quietly with our backs to it to break up our outline and waited. The male Little Owl appeared quickly and did not seem concerned by us being sat there and carried on with his evening food collection duties to supply the ever growing chicks inside the barn.

Posing nicely as we shot from ground level next to the car.
Busy Little Owl.

In the end of the day light.

We managed to get plenty of photographs of the owls coming and going and as the sun dipped away decided to get back in the car and investigate the other side of the barn. Here we found the barn was open and despite the light being low managed to get a few more photographs of the male sat on some old weathered beams. The darkness of the barn space behind provided some nice contrasting backgrounds to the birds.

Throughout last year we had struggled to get images of the Little Owls perched. We had plenty of photographs of them on the low outbuilding roof or in the old round brick window they used to exit the barn. At the very end of last year we managed to get a few images of one of the birds perched on an old branch in some very low light but there was definitely room for improvement. So for my second evening visit, which also turned out to be my last one this year, I pulled out an old piece of tree branch from the small pile I keep for perches in the back garden. We decided the best place for this perch, and where it was most likely to be used, was to attach it to the top of a fence that ran back towards from the corner of the barn outbuilding. The benefit of this position is that it also put some distance between the perch and the barn wall behind creating a soft diffused coloured background. Fortunately the Little Owl seemed to get the message that evening and used the perch several times together with one the concrete posts along the fence line.

Last moments of light.

Unfortunately I never got opportunity to go back to the site this summer and so did not have the fun times to be had photographing the young. I am sure the birds will be back in the same place next year and so look forward to another couple of barmy summer evening spent in their company.

I just want to finished this post to apologise for the lack of recent posts on the blog. I have been suffering from a unpleasant flu for the last three weeks and difficult to raise much enthusiasm with a fuzzy head full of mucus and accompanying lethargy. Fortunately this seems to be on the wane now and so normal service will be resumed.


Paul Sorrell said...

These are just wonderful images, Rich — I'm drinking them in ...

Snake Facts said...

Really great photos


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