Sunday, 20 August 2017

Barn Owl portraits

When it comes to achieving good portraits of Barn Owls in the wild,Two things tend to stand in your way.  The early morning and late evening restricted light availability being a nightmare for good exposure being the first. And secondly the fact that you are dealing with a subject with acute senses of both sound and vision,  The use of long lenses, camo gear and good field skills seems to be called for here but camouflaged clothing is a bit like ivy and tends to grow all over anything that does not move,      Judging by the images below I might have been sat in this hedgerow a tad to long....





But if this is what you have to do to create close portraits without disturbing your subject then so be it,  I have posted some results from the last few days below along with some details of the setting required to achieve reasonable exposures in the prevailing conditions.

17.40Pm   F4   ISO 5600   1/1250sec on  Nikon 500mm lens,

Detail as the above image

17.16PM  F4   1/1250sec  ISO3200   Nikon 500mm lens

Details as above image

17.15 Pm   F4   1/1250sec   ISO 1400   Nikon 500mm lens

06.53AM   F4  1/2000sec  ISO6400   Nikon 500mm lens

Details as above image

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Bank Vole behaviour

Early AM at Ryan's field I watched as a Bank Vole sauntered four to five feet from the hedgerow vegetation down the beach to the current tidal waterline, following a bit of limbering-up it purposefully dived into the water, swam out too and twice around a projecting kingfisher perch then it swam back to the shoreline, where still half in the water it conducted a bit of a wash and brush up before sauntering back up the beach to disappear into the vegetation again,  I found myself ( Not for the first time with wildlife) saying to the photographer next to me ' Well I've never seen that happen before'
Could it be a vole on holiday or perhaps just copying the crowds of tourists that are in our midst at the moment






Friday, 18 August 2017

Barn owls with prey

The hunting skills of the adult male Barn Owl that I have been working on are second to none and Brown Rats seem to be high on the owls hit list which perhaps normally would favour voles and mice but the young owls are being very well provided for,  This in turn should help create an increased population of owls in our area for the next few breeding season,





Thursday, 17 August 2017

Barn Owl Fledgling

This morning I watched a young Barn Owl fledgling leave the safety of its barn, It was on a learning curve trying to develop its hunting skills over the rough grass field, It slowed to a clumsy hover then dived into the grass after prey that it had heard or seen but its hearing and sight were better than its flight skills and it missed the prey but proceeded in hops and flapping jumps in the long grass trying to trap its escaping prey, No joy there either so perhaps there is a bit more skill required to this self catering than it thought,  At this time one of the adult birds returned to the roof of the barn so the young fledgling decided to go looking for easier Hand-outs instead,







Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Early AM on the north coast

The dawn and sunrise on the north coast was spectacular yesterday morning, The image below was taken from above Clodgy Point looking across St Ives bay towards Godrevy with dark rain clouds balancing off the silhouetted foreshore


I moved on around towards Hayle to check for any early Kingfisher sightings at Ryan's field, I was in luck and capture the next two partial silhouette portrait images before the light increased,



With improved sunlight the kingfisher started to catch fish and I noticed that this female bird had a habit of swivelling her neck through at least 180 degrees prior to swallowing her catch and I'm not quite sure why she would do this,    Any Suggestions ??




Barn Owls hunting

I revisited the Barn Owls last evening working on the principle that the previous evening had probably been two wet for them to have had much hunting success,  This seemed to be the case as the owls were busy way before the sun set creating good opportunities to capture active hunting shots,  To complete the portfolio below I have compiled a sequence of Six consecutive images into a Barn Owl hunting montage to try to demonstrate the Owls low flying silent hunting skills,  The two that I watched were successful in taking prey on four occasions during the hour that I was there,








Sunday, 13 August 2017

Beautiful Barn Owls

The Barn Owl is probably one of the UK's favourite birds and a very photogenic one to boot,  But its illusive life style also makes it a difficult subject to work with being that it is a mainly nocturnal bird of prey which hunts mostly just before sunrise and again around sunset means that photographer's encounters are generally during the fading light of dawn and dusk making exposure settings a bit of a nightmare,  The hunting time frame tends to extend during summer months when the adult birds have several hungry fledglings on their hands and this was the case with the owls that I have been working with to create the portfolio below,   Morning hunting tends to start earlier while it is dark and still finishes around sunrise so no gain there but during the evenings the hunting period can be extended into the period an hour or so before sunset creating far better exposure opportunities to take advantage of for a short spell,









The Barn Owl's graceful low and slow hunting behaviour created one of the finest wildlife spectacles that I have watched this year,  May there be may more !!

Many thanks to Martin Yelland for giving me a nodd in their direction.




Kingfisher Photography

Kingfisher photography can be a bit of a waiting game whereby known sightings location can remain unvisited for days and weeks at a time,  prey availability, mating behaviour, fatalities and a certain amount of luck can all effect the amount of time that it can take to achieve good portrait images at even well recognised locations such as the RSPB Hide at Ryan's Field Hayle,  I popped into the hide to pick up a few scallops from my friend Peter Tonkin early AM this morning and while throwing a few balls for his trusty dog Woody this  fine female Kingfisher showed on three of her favoured perch points,  Caught two small fish and was away again leaving me with a nice little portfolio and a bag of scallops for my breakfast,  Not a bad start to a Sunday morning !