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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A Short Post - on 6th December, 2015

After my last post, in which I commented on the photographic limitations of the tall pole that the Short-eared Owl that I'd been watching was using, owlmeister Paul Riddle suggested that I set up a shorter pole for it to sit on (thank you, Paul). All my owl photography, up until now, has been opportunistic. Yes, very occasionally I set up my hide and sit there patiently for some time, but I've never tried placing props for an owl to use - although I've thought about it on many an occasion!

I decided to give it a go, so on Tuesday 1st December I cut down a stout length of wood from our Sambucus in the garden (a bit that was due to be pruned out anyway) and attached it with screws to a length of substantial aluminium extrusion (after painting the aluminium black).

On Wednesday morning I set off to my shortie site, carefully selected a position close to its favoured pole, bashed the aluminium into the ground with a lump hammer, and then re-attached the new pole. - - then the evil weather set in!! We had extended periods of extremely high winds (local damage) and spells of torrential rain over the next few days.

When the winds dropped a bit, I made a couple of visits and didn't see an owl, but wasn't surprised by this as it was still very windy.

Then on Sunday we had a period of relatively calm weather, so I set off with a little more hope. The owl showed just as a lady arrived with three dogs, and we stopped to have a chat. Sadly, the owl didn't stay long and never went near either of the poles, although I did manage a few images and, as I left, I spotted the owl on another pole in a different plantation. I'll not bother with any of those images here.

Yesterday (Monday 7th) the weather became calm with sunny periods so I went back again with the intention of setting up my hide near to the two poles. As I arrived I saw the owl over the other side of the hedge having an altercation with a Crow. As I pulled into my usual parking space the owl was sitting on a short post only about 30 metres in front of me.


Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) - undisclosed site
As I moved forward to clear the road, the owl was off - and flew straight to my short pole! I was excited to think that the pole was attractive to the owl, but was somewhat frustrated that I'd not been able to set my hide up before it went there, nor would I be able to now that the owl was out. The pole was about 120 metres from my position but, by walking down the road with the hedge between me and the owl I could get to within about 80 metres. These two were taken from the roadside. I think that perch might work quite well!


Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) - undisclosed site
Sadly, the sun departed shortly after this. The owl stayed, however. The owl usually flies very low when hunting in this young plantation. On the plus side, I believe that it makes for more interesting photos. On the minus side, it makes tracking the owl with the camera a little more difficult. The image, below, shows the situation relatively clearly.

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) - undisclosed site
Here's a few more from yesterday.








Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) - undisclosed site
I was back there again today. When I set off, the wind was relatively OK, and it was sunny. I settled into my hide near the poles at 14h00. It soon got very windy, then the rain came, then the clouds came (yes, it was windy enough that the rain reached me some time before the clouds did!). Fortunately the rain stopped after about quarter of an hour and the winds lightened a bit. The owl eventually showed at 15h26, but didn't settle on a pole. It had a dog-fight with a Crow and landed on a fence post at the edge of the plantation about 75 metres away, where I could just about see it in the gloom by getting a crick in my neck looking out of a rear side window in my hide. I was getting cold now as I'd been sitting there for two and a half hours, the temperature had dropped from 13°C to 8°C, and I was getting cold! I daren't move from the hide whilst the owl was sitting there as it would blow my cover and potentially alert the owl to danger if it saw the hide again. It sat there, slowly disappearing into the gloom of nightfall, for a full forty minutes! Eventually, at 16h18 it departed over the hedge and I ran for it! The only photo in the can from today was one of a rainbow!

I shall be back again - maybe to bore you with more photos of a Short-eared Owl! Me? - I just can't get enough of them!

Thank you for dropping by.

20 comments:

  1. Oh wow such magnificent photos. You have so much patience and being cold as well does not help. Those first tow shots though are amazing. We are off to Wiltshire on Monday so hope you have a good Christmas and wish you all the best for 2016. Diane

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    1. Thank you, Diane. Sometimes patience does pay off. Sometimes there's no need to be patient!!

      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas in Wiltshire. Enjoy your holiday! My very best wishes to you for 2016 - - - Richard

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  2. Yours images of the Owl is stunning. Have a lovely CHRISTMAS. I am off to Malawi today.

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    1. Thanbk you , Margaret. I wish you a wonderful Christmas with your family in Malawi. I hope that they are soon recovered from their car accident. With my best wishes - - - Richard

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  3. I'm really loving the look of the new site and the young tree's it really adds to the images. They're all top quality to be fair. I hope you escaped the worse of the weather it has been awful. Liking the new post too

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    1. Thanks, Doug. I'm really hoping I can keep the location of this site under wraps as, the moment the location gets out, it will be wrecked - hard to explain why without giving the location away!

      Fortunately we've not suffered any damage or significant problems with the weather here. However, it's been inconvenient for birding and, more importantly, extremely uncomfortable for the birds!

      Best wishes to you - - - Richard

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  4. Well done Richard,your efforts paid of,love the flight images,they are my favourites.
    Capturing birds in flight is not that easy for me,I'm still trying to perfect that part of photography,so,after seeing these wonderful shots,i'm going to try even harder.
    keep well.
    John.

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    1. Thank you, John. Apart from the fact that they tend to come out when light levels are low, Short-eared owls are some of the easiest birds to photograph in flight as they tend to have relatively slow wing movement and, to some extent, a relatively predictable and steady flight - until they spot something and drop like a stone!

      Saw your comment on Marc Heath's blog. I too could be tempted by a visit to Kent next summer as they have a great selection of dragons and damsels there, with the Norfolk Hawker being just one! Perhaps we might meet up there?

      Best wishes to you and Sue - - Richard

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  5. Great job, Richard. Your short pole is functioning well!

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    1. Thanks, David - just need to get some results from it now! I might be a bit preoccupied over the next month or so if the weather permits. Best wishes - - - Richard

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  6. I love the patient people and you are one and a rewarded one.

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    1. I'm not sure if I've ever met anyone more patient than yourself, Adrian, with all those hours you must have spent recently on Blender. Take good care, and keep warm and dry - - - Richard

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  7. Beautiful pictures Richard, especially the flight ones. I have heard some Short-eared owls and Long-eared owls have been found dead due to starvation, one was found in the Lytchett Fields, Poole. They have problems with bad weather, the noise of the wind and rain, making hearing their prey very difficult.

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    1. That's very sad to hear, Linda. It's not just the hearing that's a problem for them. The wind makes it more difficult to detect movement in long grass. Also, owls have soft feathers which aid them to fly without sound, but these feathers are not waterproof, so rain is a double problem.

      Thank you for your visit. My best wishes - - Richard

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  8. Hello Richard, what patience you have and with such great result. Love those two first photos and the photos of the owl in flight. Hope you get to get lots more change to see this bird.
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. Thank you, Roos. A combination of a forecast of bad weather for a few days, plus some domestic commitments, means that I'll probably not be out with my camera for a while.

      Keep warm and healthy. Best wishes - - - Richard

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  9. What wonderful images, Richard! Looks like your pole project will be a success. I love the images of the owl flying through the young trees as it shows this magnificent hunter in its environment.

    We hope your weather improves so the birds (and birders) can dry out a bit.

    Gini and I wish you and Lindsay a Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year!

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    1. Thanks, Wally. We're still not having much luck with the weather with wind and rain being a real pain. I've not seen the owl on my new pole since that day, but then I've only seen the owl twice since then anyway!

      My very best wishes to you and Gini for Christmas and 2015 - - Richard

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  10. Super images Richard, lets hope we soon get some better weather not just for us but also the S.E.Owls. Well done with the pole project, worked as expected. See you soon hopefully

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    1. Thanks, John. Looks like the weather is going to work against us, and the owls for a while yet! See you soon!

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