It's been too long since my last post and to be honest it's been equally as long since I've had a chance to get out on a regular basis with my camera. Over the last few weeks though, despite some atrocious weather here in Gloucestershire, I have managed a few sessions, which have produced some wonderful moments and a few photos to boot.
My targets have been the over-wintering and ever popular short-eared owls and the local barns owls. The former have proved very tricky this winter, hunting at a distance and no doubt wary of the paparazzi-like attention they draw. The latter though have proved quite the opposite and I've had two successful outings and both times have had these beautiful birds all to myself.
The first was during a very cold and frosty morning a few weeks ago. I was onsite before sunrise and was beaten to it by an already hunting barn owl which I could see from a distance on my way to my usual spot. I didn't have to wait long before it made a speedy flypast at close range, in some fantastic light. Unfortunately I was a little slow off the mark but managed a few keepers, my favourite of which is below:
I followed this up last week with a quick visit before work and left the house under clear skies hopeful of a repeat performance. However, the closer I got the location, the foggier it got. I arrived to a full-on 'pea souper' and despite giving it a chance to burn off, returned home with not a single bird seen...unless a blackbird counts...
My most recent visit followed Storm Dennis and despite the conditions still being on the breezy side, the light was relatively good and it was dry, so I hoped the owls would be up and about making the most of the better weather. I had a half hour or so of waiting before a barn owl appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Thankfully I was ready, having been checking my settings every now and again, and the owl took its time as it made its way towards me, hunting into the wind.
I was dreading it suddenly banking away from me but my luck was in and it continued to come closer.
...and closer still....
The highlight was the moment it banked slightly towards me, giving a brilliant display of its markings as it ghosted past. An amazing few seconds and well worth sacrificing a gym session for!
The barn owl continued to hunt until dusk but didn't come within camera range until the light had gone, when it flew almost directly overhead, something that has happened a few times before! I took that as my cue to pack up and get back home into the warm. The drive home saw another barn owl perched momentarily on a roadside post before it took flight and a few minutes later the heavens opened once more.
Hopefully more to come over the coming weeks. Let's just hope the weather relents and these magical birds are able to hunt and feed successfully ready for their breeding season.
Keywords: Barn Owl, Bird Photography, Birds, Cotswolds, Dave Collins Photography, Gloucestershire, Nature, Owls, Photography, Wildlife
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