Occasionally during the last few years whilst I have been doing this "owling thing" I have had an experience or encounter that will stay with me for the rest of my life. A few that immediately spring to mind are the first times when an owl has taken up residence in one of my boxes, believe me when that happens it is bloody brilliant. I don't expect anyone else to understand that feeling or emotion, apart from maybe the brilliant team around me who have helped me along the way (you know who you are guys, thank you!!!!). Weeks and weeks of work goes into sourcing materials, designing the boxes, making them, erecting them and finally monitoring them............continuously!!!
Some of the other "stay in the mind" memories are when an owl lays her first egg, or seeing chicks for the first time, or possibly the first ringing that we did. All that is very important to me but as time has progressed the photography side of things has become just as much of a challenge and an important part of the whole concept. In years to come I want to be able to look back at what I am doing now and be proud of my achievements. I also want to be able to look at a particular image that then floods my mind with when and how it was obtained. Some of my images have possibly taken me weeks to create or manipulate. For instance my first Barn Owl in flight shot, to be honest I felt like a million dollars when that was eventually canned, after weeks if not months of trying.
Well tonight I had one of those never forget experiences. Yes I have been luckily enough over the years to get loads of Little & Barn Owl images but I've always wanted to have a "up close and personal" encounter with a Tawny Owl, and now it has happened. It has taken me nearly six years to have it and it was totally awesome! There have been plenty of brief encounters but nothing like tonight! I am a great believer in that you get out of something what you put into it, and my time with a Tawny Owl was well over due, well in my opinion it was!
I was on my way out to see if any Barn Owls were out hunting and as I passed by a huge pile of manure I spotted my first migrant of the year, a Yellow Wagtail. I was now in a dilemma, should I stay and try and capture an image or should I stay focused and continue on my way, the Wagtail won! It took an hour of waiting and some awkward re-locating but it was eventually found and an image captured. It never came close and the resultant image (below) is a massive crop of the original (oh for a 500mm lens!).
Staying with the Wagtail consumed loads of valuable "owling" time but it proved to be beneficial as when I finally decided to leave a Tawny was seen in a nearby tree. I couldn't believe what I was looking at, I fumbled around nervously trying to get the camera out of the window but my luck was in as the owl stayed perched up in the nearby tree. I made a few quick adjustments of the settings and rattled off some shots. God knows what it was doing there in the daylight but I didn't have time to question why, what or when all I had to do was get it in focus and nail a half decent shot. I know it is a bit of a "messy" image with all those horrid branches and twigs but what can one do about them?
Please excuse my french but I was as happy as a pig in shit, a Tawny in reasonable light just does NOT happen, well to me it hadn't........until now!! I didn't realise but at the time but it was 7.42pm (I'd spent far too much time with the Wagtail) but an adjustment of my camera settings allowed for me to capture the image. It just sat there perched in the tree, during that time I must of rattled off over a hundred images........and yes all virtually the same!
As the light faded the owl started to call, but it still didn't budge from its original position?? It was fantastic to witness but even though I'd waited years for this to happen it was now getting boring! Then it moved, a quick flight to a nearby ivy covered tree was its now favoured perch. Far too dark for an image, dooooughh!! My only option was to engage the flash, which resulted in the image below, my best ever Tawny shot, yeeeeeeeeess!!!!!!!!!
Sorry but not many images and loads of rambling in this latest post, but as I said before it has been a long time in the waiting for this shot, definitely an encounter I will NEVER EVER forget..........