Getting out lately has been somewhat limited, dark mornings and nights leaves only the weekends for any quality birding. But quality was just what is was at a site in Leicestershire that I have been concentrating on lately, raptors of note have been Kestrels, Buzzards, Sparrowhawks, 2 x Tawny Owls, 2 x Barn Owls, 3 x Short Eared Owls and a Merlin!!
This area has a good variety of different types of habitat but my main tactic has been to settle down out of view in a small spinney that overlooks an area of rough grassland. Viewing has been excellent but photographically it has been a challenge, either the subject is too distant or the light levels have been poor.
However, after several visits and countless invested hours the subjects and light do sometimes oblige.
The Short Eared owls here only show/hunt for a few minutes at a time, in between there can be several hours of waiting. My chosen "staked out" location on the edge of the spinney had a few posts running along in front of me, I was hoping that one of the owls would land here and offer some better views, one of them did but it was the furthest post away, typical!
I'm pretty sure the owls didn't know of my presence and occasionally one would drift across right in front of me. The views were utterly breath taking but the lack of light and slower shutter speeds did hamper the final results somewhat.
Several times the owls would dive for prey right in front of me, I never did see them catch anything, a 100% unsuccessful catch rate! This bird below sat in the grass for an age after another fruitless dive, lucky it did as I had to revert to manual focus to attain this image as the long grass played havoc.
In between the owls showing I had to be satisfied with what ever other bird species decided to put in an appearance, on several occasions a Sparrowhawk would fly in and attack the Yellowhammers and Buntings, I didn't actually see it catch anything and I tried in vain to capture a flight shot of it, without success! However, it did once land reasonably close on top of the hedgerow, I managed this next image just as it took flight.
A pair of Stonechats came very close on occasions, they did keep me entertained and occupied my time whilst waiting for one of the raptors/owls to show.
A pair of Kestrels also frequently showed, most of the time hovering over the field whilst hunting, sadly most of the time they were too distant to capture an image. But after several flyby attempts of a flight shot I did manage to capture the two images below.
Sorry but I'd like to finish this post with a few more Short Eared Owl images, they were my main quarry and thoroughly satisfying to see these majestic winter visitors up so close.
I will definitely be making some return visits, hopefully the Shorties will hang around long enough for me to capture them again only in some better light conditions. And maybe, just maybe I will also be lucky enough to have some closer encounters and photographic opportunities with one of the Barn Owls or even the Merlin?
Thanks for stopping by, the chances are this will be my last post of 2015 so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for visiting and here's wishing you all a very merry xmas and a happy new year!!