Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Hunting Shorties

I have become obsessed recently with photographing short eared owls. I have taken many hundreds of images on my visits to two locations on the Lancashire mosslands where the owls have been active during daylight hours. There has been a lot of unsuitable weather of late with many dull dismal and drizzly days . Occasionally though the sun has managed to put in an appearance and the owls have responded by coming out to hunt.

So it was yesterday, when it was a lovely sunny afternoon with little or no wind.I picked up Simon and we met up with Martin at the location where the owls had been showing. Not long after our arrival the owls appeared and for the rest of the afternoon we were treated to some wonderful fly pasts as they quartered the rough grassland looking for prey. We were joined by another party of photographers and we all clicked away as the owls performed for us.

I have selected a few of the many images I took of the action and they are shown above. I have concentrated on the owls in the process of hunting close to the ground as they looked for voles and mice. I have also tried to show images where the afternoon sun picked up the detail of the birds and gave a nice warm feel to the shots. I hope my readers enjoy these images as much as I did in capturing them and I hope to return again soon. Currently wet and gloomy weather has returned and I may not get out again for a few days.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Aerial Combat

This week has seen me visiting a new site in Lancashire where short eared owls have been active. On my first visit I saw the birds but light was rapidly failing and I decided on a return visit . I returned the following afternoon when blue skies and lovely winter sunshine were the order of the day.

It turned out to be a good decision as three shorties were present and were very active through the afternoon.I took many images in the ideal conditions and was very well pleased with the results. For this posting I have concentrated on the frequent skirmishes that took place between the owls as they fought over this prime hunting area. The fights took place up above the rough field that was obviously rich in voles and mice and they gave me some nice opportunities to obtain shots of the action. I have posted a few images above of the sparring owls. None of the owls seemed worse for wear after these skirmishes and I have headed the post with an owl having a look at me after things had returned to normal.

I hope my readers enjoy these images and I will post more later when I have maybe added more to my portfolio. Currently the rain is back and it doesn't look promising for any more action until next week. Meantime thanks for looking and enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Lucky For Some

Last Friday was the 13th of the month,I am not sure but I think it is supposed to be unlucky. For me however it didn't turn out that way.I had returned to the mosslands of South West Lancs where a number of short eared owls were still around. The weather had at long last settled down and frosty nights and bright sunny days followed the very disturbed wet and windy weather that seemed to have been with us for many weeks. These conditions were ideal for the owls to come out of hiding and begin hunting again.

I joined a number of photographers present and we enjoyed what was to be a red letter day providing many opportunities for some action images.It was quiet for a while around lunchtime but in the afternoon the short eared owls came out to play.They seemed to come at us from all directions and this made it difficult to estimate the numbers present. There definitely seemed to be four and possibly five but they put on a great display and we all " filled our boots " with hundreds of images. The bright and sunny conditions meant fast shutter speeds could be used to freeze the action.

I have posted a few images from a hectic afternoon's action and hope my readers get some idea of what it is like to be in and amongst these magnificent raptors. An excellent afternoon was enjoyed by all those present and the weather ,company and action from the owls made for an unforgettable afternoon. It had indeed turned into a lucky Friday 13th and one I hope to experience again before the owls return to their summer breeding areas. Thanks for looking in and I will be back soon with hopefully more action from the shorties.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Swan Lake

The weather of late has been terrible.Most days have been wet and windy with very dull conditions and certainly not conducive to photography. I did however spend some time at the RSPB reserve at Marshside Southport, where it was more comfortable sat in the hides.The reserve was a mass of wildfowl with terrific numbers of pintail and wigeon.The very wet conditions had made it ideal for the ducks and godwits and large numbers were present.For this post however I am concentrating on the mute swan.

There were around half a dozen swans present and they provided me with some interesting photo opportunities as they preened and bathed in front of Nel's Hide.They really are beautiful and elegant birds and at times we do take them for granted.I have tried to convey some of this beauty with my selection of swan images from the day and shown above.

As I write the weather is showing signs of settling down and blue skies and sunshine have returned. I hope therefore to be out and about over the next few days as conditions are looking good for owl and wader watching. Thanks for looking in and hope you enjoy my selection above.

Friday, 6 January 2012

First Post...Happy New Year

First of all I would like to wish all my followers and readers a Very Happy New Year.The year maybe new but the weather is certainly not !! It continues in a very disturbed mood with only the very briefest of brighter spells. It has continued to pour down with rain and more violent winds have lashed the country with Scotland bearing the brunt of the very stormy weather.

As I write after a promising start it is once more very dull with persistent drizzle but thankfully the damaging winds have eased. I have for the most part been confined to barracks and have been frustrated, not able to get out with the camera.However a couple of days ago the superb male sparrowhawk above visited my back garden and I was able to hastily grab some images before it departed. It was still raining and very dull and the settings on the camera were not quite right but I was reasonably pleased with the results.

I have shown above the better efforts as the bird posed obligingly on a garden post. It did of course come looking for a meal but this time left without catching any prey as all the sparrows etc had rapidly disappeared when the sparrowhawk appeared. Hope you enjoy looking at the images of this handsome bird and I hope normal service will be resumed as soon as possible when the weather finally settles down.