Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Shropshire - Lights out.....

A fair few evenings during June were spent 'moonlighting' in Shropshire and the undoubted highlight was chancing upon a family of Long-eared Owls!

For various reasons, it's not wise to give out locations of breeding birds, especially species of a 'sensitive' nature. The full story will emerge within one of my talks but here's a taster with some record shots of the young Owls....

I have no wish to arm myself with or use flash set ups either, due to the undoubted stress caused to the birds, all images were taken at dusk using very slow shutter speeds.

This was my first image - ISO pushed to 1600 and 1 second exposure - grim but at least a record shot of the scene......

Dense woodland meant very limited views, nearly always obscured by twigs etc. but the moments spent watching the youngsters blearily waking up, having a stretch, a yawn and then calling to the parents will undoubtedly be up there in the highlights of 2010!

Even whilst still 'downy', the Owlets are quite capable of significant jumps amongst the tree canopy. I captured one of these leaps of faith on 7D video (I just need to work out how to compress / edit the files now!)

A few days later they were clearly capable of free flight, taking off as darkness fell and found on call, grouped within a 30m area not far from the original locality.

To illustrate how slow these shutter speeds were, a slow head turn created this peculiar cyclops effect!

Eventually, keeping together as a family, adults and youngsters settled down at least 400m away from the original location. They were now rarely visible and photography was out of the question. Despite sightings being in full (moonlit) darkness, it was still exciting to see the adults bring in prey for the young as they perched on fence posts!!

There are no 'publication' quality shots here but where 'memories' are concerned, these are so nice to look back on! I can also get to bed at a reasonable time now too......


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