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Saturday, 1 December 2018

A Different Owl! - on 26th November, 2018

At the end of my last blog post which, again, featured the owls at a local site, I stated that this next post would probably have a different subject matter. Well it does and it doesn't! You're not, however, getting a post on my garden wildlife. Furthermore, the photographic content of this post is well below par!

A couple of weeks ago, I gave my talk 'The Little Owls of Leicestershire - and some that aren't so little' to a club relatively local to my home. This was a delightful group and, after the questions at the end, I was approached by one gentleman who said that he was hearing an owl from his house most nights, and occasionally seeing one in his garden. From his description, it was almost certainly a Tawny Owl that he was seeing and hearing. I was delighted when he very kindly invited me to visit him to have a look at the lie of the land and check out the area for the owl.

A visit was arranged for the afternoon of Monday 26th November, and the weather was in our favour. I arrived at around 15h30 and was shown round his land that surrounds his home. Whilst there was visibly great potential for owls and other wildlife there, no specific evidence was located by this recce.

While on site, there was a huge amount of noise from a massive housing development taking place down in the valley below. Bleeps from reversing vehicles, noisy machinery, the scream of cutting wheels, and bangs of various sorts, meant that if a Tawny Owl had called from beside our ears, I not sure we would have heard it! However, I was told not to worry as it would all finish when it got dark - and it did!

It seemed that it was almost immediately after the noise stopped that a Tawny Owl appeared, making a brief call before it arrived and settled in a tree, only about 40 metres in front of us. It stayed for a short while before heading down the meadow, chased by a Kestrel but, sadly, I did not see it look in our direction while it was in front of us.


Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)
The Silver Birch tree it landed in at the bottom of the meadow was approximately 100 metres from our position, but it was in a very dark corner, and you'd never know it was there if you didn't know where to look. Indeed, if we took our eyes off it, it was a little difficult to find it again. I was, therefore, surprised that I managed to get any sort of shot at all! For the photographers amongst you, these were taken at ISO 5,000, 1/25 sec (handheld), lens at 500mm, with a exposure comp factor of -2.7 EV to try and keep the shutter speed up and impart some degree of actuality to the scene!


Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)
I guess it probably stayed in the tree for about 10 minutes, accompanied by loud protests from other birds, including a couple of Magpies that tried, unsuccessfully, to frighten it off. After a while, it departed into tall trees and was not spotted again. 

I've been invited to return and will, hopefully be back in a couple of weeks or so. My thanks to my host for a most fabulously interesting evening. It's very rarely I get to see a Tawny Owl and it seems that, when I do, on too many occasions, it's roadkill. 


Thank you for dropping by. I refuse to speculate on the subject of my next blog post - it depends on what turns up in the interim. With the weather forecast being as bad as it is, it might be very little!

25 comments:

  1. I must get out and find an owl. I hear them regularly but have never seen one.

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    1. There are very many Tawny Owls in UK, Adrian - approximately ten times as many as Barn Owls - but many people never see them because they (the owls!) are, primarily, nocturnal. Dusk in the early winter is often the best time to find one. Good luck!! Best wishes - - - Richard

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  2. Great to see a Tawny Owl during Day light,well done Richard.
    Great shots.

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    1. Given that they're by far our most numerous species of owl, John, I've had very few sightings and it's several years since I photographed one. I'm pleased that you liked this one - thank you!

      My best wishes to you and Sue - - Richard

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  3. I don't see many photos of Tawny Owls (don't think I've ever photographed an adult)so it's refreshing to see some nice photos in reasonable light.

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    1. Thank you, Marc. I've had very few sightings of Tawny Owl in daylight in my life - If memory serves me well, just five times. Three of those times were through being told of a location, and the other two were stumbled on whilst looking for Little Owls. This sighting was a real treat for me - the first for a few years!

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  4. Good morning Richard: It is always nice to make a new friend and if an owl is part of the bargain so much the better! I have only seen a Tawny Owl once, and I was alerted to it by a bunch of other birds kicking up a commotion. They finally drove it off and it flew right past me. Snowy Owls are already present in good numbers here and we may go out to search for them on Sunday. I have a cold so we’ll see how I feel then. Right now I am at that sneeze a minute stage! Bah humbug!

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    1. So sorry to hear that you've got a cold, David. I know that they're not a serious illness, but they can be quite debilitating, particularly if they end up as a chesty cough! You might be better off staying in the warm until the worst is over, but I can totally understand the draw of Snowy Owls.

      I'm not surprised that you've only seen a Tawny Owl once. I've probably had less than twenty sightings in my life, and I live in a country where there are supposed to be around 50,000 breeding pairs!

      Take good care. I recommend a good single malt for that cold. Love to you and Miriam - - - - Richard

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    2. My cold is bad enough to warrant two. Thank you for this sage advice, Dr. Pegler.

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    3. Twice a day, after food. With a drop of water (no more!) is permissible if preferred. Alternatively just drink half a bottle and enjoy the oblivion!

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  5. Hi richard! It's great to see owls! I would like to see so much owls. Maybe sometimes I can see them. Greetings

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    1. I hope that you do see owls, Anne. You have some owl species in your country that we do not get in UK, and I would love to see them! Best wishes - - - Richard

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  6. Beautiful Tawny Owl, one of the best. I have pictured only one, that was a long way, one I'm proud of. Well done Richard.

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    1. Thank you, Bob. For me, they are one of the most difficult owls to find - nearly as difficult as Long-eared Owl. I hope the coming week goves you some good photo opportunities. My very best wishes - - - Richard

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  7. Hi Richard,
    I saw this post first but I had to read the other post. Therefore, first went to the post below.
    And in this new post is the beautiful little owl. What is that beautiful? Super to see this owl and to be able to photograph. You use meost in the night high iso amar the photos are really still very geod to do.

    Cordial greetings,
    Helma

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    1. Thank you for your visit, Helma, and your kind words. I'm really enjoying spending time with owls again, and hoping my luck continues. My best wishes to you. Take good care - - - Richard.

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  8. We enjoyed your visit Richard. Super pics.

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    1. Thank you, so much, for your kindness, Colin. The visit was an absolute highlight for me, and I look forward to coming back some time. Will be in touch when we get some better weather and a visit to that other location is on the cards. Best wishes - - - Richard

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  9. how wonderful you were able to see and photograph this tawny Owl and then to be invited back on to his land is super. looking forward to seeing even more images

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    1. Thank you, Margaret. It certainly was a wonderful experience. I'm looking forward to returning there, but it looks as if it might be after Christmas now. My best wishes - - - Richard

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  10. Wow!!! Las primeras fotos del cárabo son excepcionales, me han encantado. Enhorabuena Richard por este extraordinario trabajo, un fuerte abrazo desde el norte de España.

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    1. Gracias - Germán. Fue una rara oportunidad y un verdadero privilegio ver a esta lechuza y poder fotografiarla. Con mis mejores deseos desde Inglaterra, donde ahora ha dejado de llover y el sol brilla. ¿Pero por cuánto tiempo? - - - Richard

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  11. Amazing photos under the circumstances, well done. Great that you have a new friend, and one that has a local owl as well. Looking forward to your return visit and more photos. I hope that all is well. Have a good week, Diane

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    1. Thank you Diane. Not sure when that return visit might be - probably after Christmas - and then there's only a small chance of seeing the owl again.

      All's fine here, thank you. I hope all is well with you too. My very best wishes - - - Richard

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  12. What a thrilling story Richard!
    Tawny owls are getting scarce in my area... like many other bird species unfortunately.
    Congrats for these pics, not easy with such low light....
    Warm hugs to share with Lindsay and enjoy your weekend

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