Saturday, 22 December 2018

Barn Owls at Christmas

I began the year with an account of a barn owl. I am finishing the year with another account of barn owls.The weather so far in December has been awful with rain on most days and very dull conditions.Hardly conducive to good photography but there have been a couple of days when conditions have been ok.Around the middle of the month there was a sharp frost followed by blue skies and light winds,the perfect recipe for the barn owls to hopefully come out hunting in good light.

It did indeed turn into a perfect afternoon and I was in position around 1pm awaiting the arrival of the barn owl.I have found that barn owls are very regular as to when they appear and not long after my arrival the barn owl came out to hunt.It was the same location as mentioned in my last post and I was able to photograph and observe this wonderful bird from the comfort of the car.It quartered the small field from time to time and did appear to catch something but a kestrel came along and disturbed it. On some of the images below you can see blood on the owl's beak but the vole escaped to live another day.

This will probably be my last posting this year as it is only a few days now to the Christmas festivities.Thanks to all my followers and I wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year.I hope to return soon in 2019 with more of Lancashire's wonderful wildlife.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Barn Owls...Brief Encounters

Towards the end of November the weather was settled with easterly winds and dry conditions.I discovered that a local barn owl was coming out and hunting early afternoon on a regular basis.I visited half a dozen times and was rewarded with some great opportunities for the camera.The earliest the owl came out was around 1.30pm.I made sure I was in position around that time and with the camera set up ready.

I had previously placed two posts in the field the barn owl regularly used hoping it might land on the posts giving some excellent opportunities for portrait shots.The barn owl did quarter the small rough field but never stayed long but would return sometimes and a couple of times it did catch a vole and returned to its roost in nearby farm buildings.I was stationed in the car at the roadside and the barn owl ignored the car when it came out to hunt.

I couldn't believe my luck when the barn owl used both my perches long enough for me to get some nice images.I had tried this tactic once before and found that barn owls will regularly use perches if placed in suitable locations.The weather and light throughout my visits was perfect enabling me to obtain some super shots some of which are shown below.It was also ideal for flight shots with fast shutter speeds being the norm with the great light.Hope you enjoy the images below and I have many more which I may post at a later date.Thanks for looking in an hopefully I will return to the owls when the current very wet conditions improve.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Icelandic Visitors

It had been many weeks since I had visited the Pilling area of Lancs.I made a couple of trips to the area recently to catch up on the birdlife.As expected a number of pink footed geese and whooper swans had arrived from their Icelandic breeding grounds.The Pilling area is a traditional winter haunt for swans and geese and a drive around the lanes will guarantee finding flocks feeding on the fields

A favourite food is the leftover potatoes.The swans in particular seem to make for the fields with unharvested potatoes close to or just under the soil.In the images below the whoopers can be seen enjoying the leftovers.A number of juvenile swans were with the adults and were learning the best areas for food.The geese mostly seem to enjoy grazing the grass.It was nice to see these visitors from Iceland back in Lancs.Also evident were numbers of curlews,a declining species but still in good numbers here in winter.Shown below my better efforts with the camera with the swans,geese and curlews.Thanks for looking in and my next posting will be of the red deer rut in Lakeland.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Yorkshire...Deer and Kites

I recently visited Yorkshire for my annual visit to Studley Royal Deer Park.It was dry and cool with no sun but ideal for photography.I found the deer herds in the usual part of the parkland and they were in groups of reds,sitkas and fallows.I spent a couple of hours or so stalking and photographing the groups of deer.The reds were mostly inactive chewing the cud and were very approachable with care.The sitkas were on the move and can be seen in the fifth image below.I always think they are an odd looking deer a cross between reds and fallows with reds antlers and fallows spotted coats.The fallows were best and suddenly appeared scampering into view.There were a good number on view and they gave me some very nice images.

My second visit to Yorkshire was to the village of Harewood to the north of Leeds were it is possible to see red kites which were introduced to the area a number of years ago and they are thriving with good numbers now present.The well known spot visited by photpgraphers is at the rear of the Muddy Boots Cafe in the village.I could see kites in the air as I approached the cafe.It was warm and lunch was taken at the picnic tables to the rear of the cafe and the kites would periodically drift over the area and gave some very good photographic opportunities.It had been two excellent days in Yorkshire and I was pleased with the results.Hope you also enjoy the images below and thanks for looking in.It looks like a cold weekend is on the cards with a blast of Arctic air on it's way so wrap up well and enjoy the weekend.