Around 30 miles or so from where I live lies Rutland Water, a huge man-made reservoir where for the last few years they have been managing an Osprey breeding project. Although I am not familiar with the statistics I am aware that it has been a very successful program and they now have returning/breeding birds each year, well done to all the team and their volunteers.
Now I have always wanted to spend some time watching and hopefully attaining some "half decent" images of Osprey's but the problem with the birds at Rutland is they can be very distant most of the time. However, there is now another option where one can get a lot closer to the birds. Photography hides have been erected at two nearby trout farms where the Ospreys regularly hunt, I have seen some of the images that other photographers have been attaining and they are stunning to say the least, but that is not my thing!!! I am firstly a watcher of wildlife and secondly a photographer and to fore-fill what makes me tick is I like to find my own subjects rather than just turn up at what I would call a rather "artificial"site. Yes I am sure this kind of set up suits many and they proudly share their spoils, but that is it, turn up, take the image go home and then move onto the next subject. There is just not enough substance in that for me, no research, no field-craft, no individuality. To further compound my argument they are charging £60.00 a time for the privileged but this is apparently to offset the cost of the Trout being taken.
So that now brings me to Thursday evening just gone, I was out doing a bit of general birding at a body of water in Leicestershire. I was practicing BIF (birds in flight) images in readiness for my up and coming "owling" holiday in Scotland. There were plenty of birds about too for me to point my lens at, Buzzards, Red Kites, a pair of Kestrels, my first Hobby of the year and a late hunting Barn Owl, but the bird that gave me most satisfaction to see was an Osprey! I'd chosen to visit this location as I'd always had an inclination that birds would visit and maybe even breed nearby! The bird spent a good 30 minutes fishing/hunting along the far bank, great to witness even though it didn't catch anything and it was distant. Because of this "chance" encounter I sacrificed my Friday night out at the pub and re-visited the said location again. Regarding the birds seen it was pretty much the same as the evening prior, but no Osprey? Then around 7.00pm an Osprey put in an appearance, it seemed to roughly following the same flight path as yesterday, but this time I was in a different location and a lot nearer!
I had some great views and I even managed to attain a few images, my best ever of an Osprey. Granted this image is not of the same quality as the one's being attained at the Rutland hides but it was very satisfying that my plan came to fruition and it cost me nothing apart from the small sacrifice of not having a few beers!
This time the Osprey did catch a fish (large Roach I think?) it then flew with its catch up and away from the water only to return 10 minutes later without its catch! This action makes me suspect even more that it may well be breeding very close by?
On the way home I located a new Tawny Owl, not sure yet if it is a roosting or breeding site but I am hoping the latter. The bird was sitting in a cavity of a roadside tree that I've been keeping a close eye on for years! What made it even better was the light levels (from the setting sun) were excellent, most unusual seeing a Tawny in such good light.
Upon seeing the bird I just kept driving, I'm sure if I'd have stopped straight away it would have spooked the bird? I pulled up in a gateway got the camo scrim up at the window, hung the beanbag over the door and poked my camera out. I then reversed up slowly and to my delight the bird wasn't spooked by my stealthy approach, in fact it seemed to be slightly inquisitive!
The owl sat and looked back at me for a few minutes, then to my surprise it briefly came out of the cavity, it would have made a really nice image if it wasn't for the odd twig that covered part of its face.
Catch up soon..........