I have to confess to losing my owling 'mojo' of late. The reasons are several, not the least of which is the distraction of our garden which is being frequented by Great Spotted Woodpeckers and their offspring! Buying another camera body has also kept me busy. There will be more about this in a later post.
Anyway, this is supposed to be a blog with an emphasis on owls, and so I'd better do something about it.
Most of my owling this month has been ancillary to other activities, so little photography has resulted. The few dedicated owling forays, with hours spent in car or hide, have resulted in nothing!
I pass through my local patch on a regular basis, and the owls seem to be doing OK at my Little Owl Site No.02 in spite of a break in (egg collectors suspected). We've now installed a well-hidden surveillance camera (an amazing bit of kit!). This was the male owl on one of its favoured perches on 12th June.
|Little Owl (male) - my Site No.02
On 20th June, my pal Titus and I were on duty at Rutland Water. It was an absolutely foul day day weather-wise, with torrential rain and strong winds setting in just after 14:00. On my way to Titus's place (at around 13:30) the male owl was out at Site No.02. When the weather set in we fully expected that we'd have an owl-less afternoon. Surprisingly, on our way to Rutland Water, an owl was out on a distant fence at my LO Site No.21!
|Little Owl - my Site No.21
Our turn of duty was between 17:00 and 20:00 and, at this time of year, we would normally expect to be enjoying good light. However, the visibility conditions were the worst I've ever experienced whilst on this shift. If we hadn't have had the ability to hook into the web-cam, we wouldn't have had a clue what was going on. Just to give you some sort of idea, a Mole put in a brief appearance outside the hide at 18:45 (that's pretty-much three and a half hours before sunset - it was only one day off the longest day). I grabbed some quick shots of the Mole, and then saw, to my disappointment that they were all badly blurred. It's only when I looked at the data that I saw that, in spite of being set at ISO 2000(!), the shutter speed was 1/40th second. No wonder I didn't 'freeze' a scurrying mole with a 500mm lens!
We didn't hold out any hope for owls on the way home that night, but as we passed my LO Site No.23, where I haven't seen an owl since December last year, and then previously not since August, 2011, a Little Owl was in a tree near the road ahead of us. I called for Titus to stop (he was driving), and we grabbed the safety shot.
|Little Owl - my Site No.23
Fortunately the owl obliged by staying there whilst we moved a bit closer - no, the light was even worse than earlier in the evening, but the subject was static this time!
|Little Owl - my Site No.23
We were totally unprepared when we found an owl in a tree right beside the road at Site No.21, and it disappeared up the field whilst we sorted ourselves out. I did get some sort of record shot of it in the field, but I won't trouble you with it here!
Other than that, my only other owl photos since the last owl post were taken on my way to get garden bird seed. Again it was a windy day (there have been rather a lot of those this month!), but one of the Little Owls was out at my Site No.15, sheltering on the leeward side of the oak tree that is its home.
|Little Owl - my Site No.15
It's virtually impossible for me to get closer images at this site. The tree is in the middle of a field which seems to spend most of its life in crop and, therefore, not accessible.
I'd hate you to think that I manage close-ups of most of my owls. In reality, most of the time I'm only getting distant sightings as depicted above. The close-ups are the occasional lucky ones, and I'm not getting too many of those at present, even with use of the hide.
Weather permitting, I hope to get in some more serious owling next week!