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Monday, 31 March 2014

Short But Sweet - on 27th March, 2014

On Thursday my pal Titus and I had one of our weekly afternoons out, checking up on the owls. The afternoon started off bright and sunny, but the forecast was not good, so our hopes were not overly high.

At my Little Owl Site No.44 we clocked both the owls sitting out after a hail/sleet shower. Brief attempts at photography came to nothing worthwhile.

Further on, at my LO Site No.46, it had brightened up a bit and both owls appeared shortly after we stopped. I was pleased to see that the cattle were still not in the field, but we only observed distantly from the road.

It was not much further on to LO Site No.41, where we'd erected an owl box. The birds spent all winter on the far side of the field, but lately they seem to have abandoned that side and returned to the side with their original nest tree. As the ground was now dry enough to park on the roadside, we decided to make this our lunch break spot so that we could observe and try and see where the owls were spending their time. We parked about 80 metres from the old nest tree, so that we could keep an eye on all their usual haunts. We'd only been there about ten minutes when an owl flew up from behind the hedge and landed high up in the old nest tree, disappearing from sight almost immediately. It must have been another 20 minutes, or so, before I spotted it again, well-camouflaged by the multitudinous twigs that surround the tree. You can see what I mean by the image below.

Little Owl - my Site No.41
We sat there for quite a long time, waiting for the owl to make a move - which it didn't! - so decided to move on to the next destination. A slow cruise past the tree gave us a better photo opportunity. The car makes quite a good hide in these circumstances!

Little Owl - my Site No.41
Our next stop was at LO Site No.34, which featured in my last post. I was glad to have got that session in my hide under my belt as we arrived to find that there were now cattle in the field. Both owls were sitting in the nest cavity, and we sat and watched for a while. I then noticed that there was an owl in the hedgerow at LO Site No.36 which, amazingly, is only about 150 metres from Site No.34, and in the same field! As neither Titus nor I had any photos of No.36 from closer than around 150 metres, I invited Titus to try a stealthy approach on foot, but Titus declined so off I set.

The owls at No.34 stayed put when I got out of the car, but disappeared back into their nest hole as I approached the gate into the field. I'd decided that mixing with the cattle might help me approach No.36 without disturbing the owl. This was my view when I'd gone about 50 metres.

Little Owl - my Site No.36
Using this technique, and only approaching the owl obliquely, I got to within about 15 metres of the owl. I'm rather pleased with the results, especially the colours of the diffused background.

Little Owl - my Site No.36
To cut a long story short, no further owls were seen and torrential rain curtailed our activities and sent us homeward. It was still throwing it down when, an hour and a half later, I arrived back home more than two hours earlier than intended. It had been a short afternoon, but the image from No.36 was the sweetener for me!

18 comments:

  1. You did extremely well Richard,love the Car,Hide on wheels.
    Site 36,did you think about using the Cow for cover.
    John.

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    1. Thanks, John. There were only about six cows between me and the owl. The owl was totally unfazed by the cows, even at a couple of metres distance, so rather than try and hide behind the cows and risk spooking it by suddenly emerging to take the shot, I tried to mingle with them, staying in sight of the owl virtually all the time, and hoping it would consider me to be one of the herd. It seemed to work!!!

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  2. Richard, your owl odysseys are nothing short of remarkable. It's like following the history of a family with all its varying twists and turns. Bring on the next episode!!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, David. I suspect that my next post will not be on owls - but who can tell!

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  3. Great idea for fieldcraft using the cows, weren't you worried about the cows?
    Site 41 has some really good branches to hide behind, I almost didn't spot it hiding in the tree.

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    1. These were soft old milk-cows, Doug, more nervous of me than I was of them, and I had difficulty keeping close to them. I still wouldn't want to be in my hide in a field with them - mainly due to a potential accident with their clumsiness. I do have a healthy respect for cattle - particularly bulls, and young beasts that tend to charge towards you on sight.

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  4. Another great post mate with some very inventive field-craft techniques!!

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    1. Thank you, Paul. Those of us that don't have the luxury of a Landie have to be inventive sometimes!

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  5. Very sweet, Richard... very sweet :-) The Little Owl has a nice view on the cow :-)
    Greetings

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    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for your kind words.

      Sorry, I missed your comment until now!

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  6. Hello Richard!
    I fully agree, this picture is stunning and you did well to put it up as a banner!
    You certainly have the experience to approach them the right way!
    The weather is despicable here too, the lack of light and/or rain is getting on my nerves!! LOL!
    Keep well! ;-)

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    1. Thank you Noushka.

      I hope that your weather, like ours, has improved a lot. Only last Thursday the light was terrible all day because of smog - as featured on my latest post.

      Sorry, I missed your comment until now!

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  7. Excellent, love that last photo. Keep well Diane

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    1. Thank you, Diane. I hope that all is well with you.

      Sorry, I missed your comment until now. Yours was one of three that I didn't know I'd had until just now!

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