Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Whoopers and Barnies

The weather is still very up and down. Good days for photography have been rare with most days being dull and dismal or very wet.However a week ago it looked promising with an excellent forecast for blue skies and not much wind.So it turned out and I returned to Martin Mere to hopefully have another close encounter with the barn owl that had been out hunting in the early afternoons.

I began as I often do with a look at the whooper swans which now numbered well over a thousand birds present at Martin Mere.I began from the Swan Link hide which is I understand to be demolished.It has been replaced by the excellent brand new Discovery Hide.This provides excellent facilities for experienced and less experienced bird watchers and photographers.The Swan Link hide was deserted and I enjoyed some excellent views of the whooper swans.They were enjoying the wonderful sunshine which has been lacking recently and they were bathing and preening in the warm sunshine.This made for some nice images which are shown below.

Another birder advised me that the barn owl had been showing well down at the Ron Barker hide. I made my way to the hide to find that the owl had gone back into hiding.It was still not midday so there was every chance the barn owl would return later.I had to wait until around 3pm for the owl to return but it was certainly worth the wait.It hunted in exactly the same way as when I had last seen it at the beginning of the year.It used the fence posts to perch as it made it's way along the perimeter of the field.It was exciting watching it get ever nearer to the hide and it gave some great opportunities for the waiting cameras.

It had been a great day at Martin Mere with great weather for a change .The birds responded and all the birdwatchers and photographers went away with some great memories,images and videos particularly of the resident barn owl.I hope it continues it's hunting routine and you can be sure I will return for more close encounters with this special bird.Thanks for looking in and I will be back soon with more of Lancashire's wonderful wildlife.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

An Owly New Year...Short eared Owl

As promised in my last post I am continuing the owly theme for the beginning of 2016.Following my excellent session at Martin Mere with the barn owl the following afternoon found me at Lytham Moss.There had been a couple of short eared owls present at Lytham Moss since before Christmas and I was determined to obtain better images than on my first visit.The very wet weather had relented a little and it was to be a lovely sunny afternoon with excellent light giving perfect conditions for the camera.

As soon as I got out of the car I could see two short eared owls sparring over the far side of Lytham Moss and a couple of kestrels were also up in the air.I got into position part way across the mossland and awaited the arrival of a shortie.One did soon appear but it was quartering the area close to the road. I moved back again and eventually the owl came within camera range.For the next ninety minutes or so I was able to watch and photograph this special bird.I was very pleased with the results some of which I have shown below.

Also towards the latter part of the afternoon the barn owl appeared. It didn't come close but again it provided more camera opportunities as it hunted out in the middle of Lytham Moss.All in all it had been another super afternoon photographing owls.It had been a great start to my 2016 campaign and it is looking good for the next week or so with more typical cold and frosty weather and I will probably be back chasing owls very soon. Thanks for looking in and lets hope this year is a good one for us all.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

An Owly New Year...Barn Owl

The weather for the New Year has still been very wet at times but with one or two drier interludes. I have managed to get out to do some photography with visits to Martin Mere and Lytham Moss.It has been noticeable recently that barn owls have been seen regularly at various locations hunting in the early afternoons.The vole population must have also been active at these times and it has been good to have some excellent sightings of both barn owl and short eared owl.

For my first post of the New Year I will concentrate on the barn owl. I had noted that barn owls were being seen on a daily basis out hunting at Martin Mere.On Tuesday afternoon therefore I was in position in the Ron Barker hide awaiting the appearance of a barn owl.It wasn't long before one was seen on a fence post but some distance away and another very distant barn owl was also spotted but again much too far away.Then suddenly another barn owl appeared at the end of the fence line close to the hide.This owl was very much in hunting mode and for the next forty minutes or so those present were treated to some fabulous views of this lovely bird.The bird was post hopping and looking for prey as it came along the fenceline towards the waiting watchers and photographers.

I made the most of this splendid opportunity firing off dozens of shots as the bird came ever closer.It did at one point catch a vole and ate it whilst on the floor.It was a wonderful experience to watch the owl for a lengthy period in excellent light. I hope my images below convey some of the magic of watching this barn owl.This was the first barn owl I had seen from the hides at Martin Mere and I hope it wont be the last.My next posting will be showing the short eared owl seen at Lytham Moss on the following day. Thanks for looking in and keep tuned for more of Lancashire's wildlife.