I have been chasing dragonflies and butterflies mostly, but the evenings have been spent Owl watching, My friend Mike Smith has been having some fabulous results with both his Barn Owl and Little Owl projects, I have seen some of the results on Birdguides and through emails he has sent me, I am very envious to say the least. However I know Mike has put huge amounts of effort into the projects, He hasn't just turned up and expected to get results. This has inspired me to continue with my own Little Owls.
The initial problems I had were trying to get the owls to come to where I was, to the right side of the site for the evening light. Occasionally they would sit on a roof of the building in front of where I had positioned myself, but the angle and the distance was not producing the results I particularly wanted. My window of opportunity is relatively small too, two of what I believe are three owls don't come out till its almost dark. I remember Chris G complaining of the same problem when he did his project at the same site a few years ago. The Farmers have helped me a lot by removing the favourite resting place of the owls, a stack of fruit boxes, from the wrong side of the building.
However I have persevered and for the first time, last night I managed to get two of the owls down onto the ground and large fruit boxes at distances of 8 to 20 feet in front of me. At one point the one owl was too close to focus the lens on so I just had to sit and watch. not that I'm complaining, they are very characterful little birds. I have fallen in love with just being in their company. They know I'm there, and if I stay in the car they will now tolerate me, even throwing worms out of the window for them.
This is the view I have been mostly used to.
or even this
both of these are 50% cropped at least. However last night as I said I got these,
These are only small crops, mainly for composition. I think this bird is a juv, he's very light in colour and he comes out the earliest.
The best shots are definately the action shots I love this next one.
However this next shot is almost full frame, allowing for the crop of the camera of course, I have trimmed a tiny bit off the sides for composition.
I am sure this is an adult, its darker than the other and is moulting heavily, this feather has been sticking out like that for at least two nights. I am going to continue to work with the owls and see if I can match Mike's standard. If you haven't checked out Birdguides this week, have a look in the notable photo section and see Mike's excellent shot of a little owl. That is what I aspire to, its pin sharp and just stunning.
Marbled white butterfly have featured heavily for me this week, I went back and tried to get some more.
The pair mating was a real bonus, had to lie on my belly to get them though which was not easy.
Emperor Dragonfly have caused me some problems, I had to sit and wait for over an hour until this one landed on my stick only to find that he has a duff wing.
This Ruddy Darter was a lot more obliging in a different location.
and this Four Spotted Chaser was almost as obliging.
Going through my pictures from Prees Heath last week I found a couple more Grasshopper that I like.
I am still trying to improve my photography, I guess we all want to get better, but I got some feedback this week from someone who I very much respect when he said that he would have liked to have had some of the stuff I posted last week. I won't name him as he knows who he is. Thank you mate.
Lets hope the owls and all the other birds, bee's and critters out there continue to come my way, with the weather to make the most of it. I'm down to the forest this next week, Roxy has her hair appointment so I'm hoping desperately that the weather is kind and I get to spend a few hours taking shots down there.