Hi and welcome to my Blog, my name is Paul Riddle and I live in south Leicestershire, UK. Back in August 2007 my quest began to locate as many local Little Owl territories as possible. The driving force was a reported decline in the uk numbers so I thought I would do my bit and conduct a study in my area. After 7 years and countless hours out in the field I have detected over 200 different sites. With a thirst for a greater understanding of the owls a more comprehensive monitoring and nest box programme then commenced. This also now includes monitoring the local and very sparse population of Barn Owls, please pop back occasionally and catch up with the life and times of my owls and any other wildlife that I come across. I hope you enjoy your visit!!!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Lucky Owl!

Last night I made another visit to the local Barn Owl site, the parents are now busily feeding their ever growing young brood of 3 chicks and consequently are venturing out to feed earlier than normal, but not every night! Some nights the weather is not to their liking and they are not seen at all, other times they come out too late for photography and then there are the times when they fly off in the wrong direction altogether!  
 
Tonight I was trying to get a portrait shot with a greenish back ground rather than the sky or the brick wall of the barn. So that meant shuffling the hide around a bit so the leaves on the nearby ash tree gave me the backdrop I was after. But this also meant that the sunlight would be coming over my left shoulder and not fully on the bird, a sacrifice I was prepared to make. I was positioned up in my small mobile hide by 7.30pm, the light was just perfect and all that was needed now was an obliging owl to land on the post in front of me. 
 
At twelve minutes past eight I caught my first glimpse as one of the birds flew straight past me, it wasn't tempted to take a rest on the perch? At first I thought it was going to be a fruitless session but then for some reason it turned and swooped around and landed right in front of me. It was just what I was after, the bird in full light (well most of it was) a nice perch and a greenish diffused background. It stayed with me for a few minutes and in that time I took a couple of dozen shots at varied different compositions and settings. The final image that I have decided to share is almost full frame, shot at an ISO of 500, F5 and focal length of 186mm. The views in that low golden light were just amazing and I am very pleased with the resultant image (below). 
 

The time with the owl ended far too prematurely for my liking, it was perched up in an adjacent tree just nonchalantly scanning the verge below when out of nowhere it was attacked by a Buzzard!!! I'd never seen anything like it before, the Buzzard flew in at speed with talons outstretched in front of it and smashed into the chest of the owl. The thudding noise of the impact was surprisingly loud, in a flurry of feathers the owl fell like a lead balloon into the long grass and nettles, oh no this was not good! I was soon out of the hide and searching for it, the length of the grass (waist high) made it extremely difficult to walk in without the fear of treading on it!
 
After 10 minutes of searching nothing was found, it was then a relief when both of the parent owls were seen flying in and around the barn. Goodness knows how it managed to have flown out of the grass without being seen but it did and it seemed none to worse for its ordeal.

6 comments:

  1. Amazing image Pual (header image too) I bet your heart was in your mouth when that Buzzard flew in, is the owls you're talking about the same bird you blogged about with the "cracked" egg?

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    1. Yes Doug it is!!! How did you connect the two?

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  2. Can't find words strong enough to describe my admiration of these two images, Paul!! For me, the header image has the edge on the one in the post. Amazing!!

    It must have been a real heart-stopping moment when the Buzzard attacked! I can fully imagine your horror, and then your relief later when you found both birds safe and sound!

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    1. Yes I too prefer the header image as well, thanks for your comment buddy.

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  3. Absolutely stunning portraits. You'll struggle to get better then these mate.

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