Where did June go!! Sorry about that folks but I seem to have lost a month somewhere, you can't leave anything lying about nowadays!
BARN OWL WITH FIELD VOLE
SHE FLOATS IN BEAUTY, LIKE THE NIGHT...
Ok I took a liberty with Byron’s poem but these words kept surfacing in my mind every time I encountered these enigmatic beauties.
When I first saw this owl floating across the road it was carrying a hapless field vole and so clearly it was nesting somewhere nearby. I stopped to watch, I was actually on my way home but I could not resist spending a few more minutes here enjoying the last rays of sunlight and basking in the still warmth of the summer evening.
I didn’t have to wait long, another barn owl flew past carrying another vole, this owl was considerably darker so it will be easy to see who is who even though the sexes are alike.
As you will know, I have been spending some considerable time with the Little egrets but, beautiful as they are there are only so many pictures I can take before I find myself repeating images and so this was the signal to move on.
THE IDEAL IMAGE
I didn’t want to photograph them at the nest (it is illegal to do so by the way without a schedule one licence) I wanted to try and capture the owl as I was seeing it in my mind’s eye, flying towards me in the evening light, having a nice rustic background behind the bird rather than a bland sky and of course, carrying a field vole. That’s not too much to ask is it?
Haha, “never assume” as a friend often tells me and the ease with which I saw these owls on that first encounter was most certainly not repeated, the image above has taken almost all of the past four weeks to get. Unless it was raining or particularly overcast I have been there, in a hide or under a camouflage net every evening. I have seen marsh harriers, kingfishers, roe deer and even a rare garganey duck but the owls, for the most part either hunted the wrong field or flew past showing me only rear ends. Garganey Occasionally they did give me some lovely images but always just too far away or if closer, they were flying against the sky which is no ‘picture’ at all.
BARN OWLNearly but still a little too far away.
Last night as I sat with my back against a farm gate and the camouflage net over me a hare popped through the gate from behind me and with no idea that I was there and ten feet away it stopped, stood up on its hind legs for a look around and then dropped down to amble along nibbling choice grasses and clover as it went. Had I moved the lens toward it when it was close it would have fled, as it was, all I could do was watch yet another rear end moving off into the distance.
As I watched one of the owls hunting about half a mile away a quiet shadow floated over me, it was the other owl of course and as it flew on along the canal I thought “if it catches a vole down there it will come back this way”.
BARN OWL DIVES FOR PREY
“Never assume” but this time the plan did work. It suddenly spiralled down into the long grass and came up carrying this vole.
It flew toward me, it kept coming, it looked straight ahead and now had nothing more on its mind than to get this meal to its chicks. I had my camera set to silent shutter which really works well with owls and on it came. It was all going to go right this evening, I pressed the shutter, the camera whispered through about six shots and it was gone. It wasn’t 100% the background I wanted but this will do nicely thank you my friend.
BARN OWL FLYING THROUGH THE SUMMER MIDGES.
THE DEER COME DOWN TO DRINK
A couple of roe deer seem to spend the day sleeping under a hawthorn hedge but on two nights in a row they emerged, stood on the bank top to see all was well and then stepped down to the water’s edge for a drink. Even though they were a fair distance away it was still worth taking some pictures I thought. Naturally I made sure I was in a better position for them on the third, fourth and fifth nights when of course they never showed at all but that’s how it goes sometimes.
Last month I showed you a picture of a duckling not so commonly seen and just for fun I asked you what you thought it might grow up to be. Well as you see it is one of our most colourful ducks, the shellduck, more likely to be seen on salt mar SHELLDUCK CHICK shes than anywhere else.
So, here’s another little bit of fun, well it made me smile anyway.
The more I examined it the more I kept seeing Groucho Marks!
What do you imagine this black and yellow thing is? I'll let you know next month.
BARN OWLS IN LINCOLNSHIRE
Not so many years ago when barn owls were extinct in some counties Lincolnshire has always had a healthy barn owl population. No doubt the endless flat grasslands we have around here suit the bird perfectly. I think there are about 400 breeding pairs in Lincolnshire at the moment. Norfolk has about 190 pairs and Suffolk about 130 pairs so it is no wonder you see this beauty so often as it hunts the roadside verges. We are having a glorious summer, field voles are abundant and I think it will be a bumper year for the owls.
The chicks leave the nest in 9 to 12 weeks, usually 9 and parents continue to hunt food for them. Apparently the chicks will make a peculiar snoring noise when begging for the food. If this is the case I can visualise another very desirable image but.... never assume!
Incidentally thousands of ‘barn owl boxes’ are erected throughout the UK every year and if you have space for one you might want to have a look here for details email@example.com
SEDGE WARBLER WITH FOOD FOR CHICKSChicks are all on the wing now.
Well summer is at its peak now, there are young birds all over the place and next month the migrants such as the warblers, wagtails etc will be heading south for the winter. It is the AUTUMN MIGRATION and my favourite time of the year. The east coast is the best place to be so what will show up? I can’t wait to find out and I hope I can show you something good next month.
The sun set, there was a pink glow in the sky from one small area and I couldn't resist capturing it. Now when I look at it it looks like it was taken from a ship at sea!
Those darker clouds at the bottom are just that but doesn't this look so weird?