Saturday, 19 November 2011

Not Short Of Magic

Having enjoyed a wonderful session at a site in Northants, I was eager to return, and cashing in some owed time off from work, I persuaded Dad to accompany me again to the location. Not that he needed much persuasion! 

It was a fine sunny morning when we set off but by the time we had arrived, it had clouded over - though the weather was supposed to clear, and so it did over lunch. As before, there were flocks of fieldfare, larks and pipits around, but frustratingly, the owls refused to come out to play. 

By mid afternoon, I was beginning to think I'd made a mistake coming, but I wasn't alone, as several other cars had arrived and set up in anticipation. Probably to stop his legs from seizing up, Dad wandered along the track, and put an owl up! Didn't fly far, and dropped into the field. But I could then see it sat in the grass, and watched it as it preened, ruffled its feathers, looked all around, constantly and then finally, took flight.
Immediately, another flew at it, and it was like an alarm clock had sounded, and all the owls took off at the same time!
With the sun still out, the light was good, and we were treated to a very close flyby by a pair, one of which perched in a nearby tree. The view was slightly obscured, but the glare we got was almost scary!
Then for the next 90 mins or so, the owls flew around the fields in front and behind us, not bickering as much as before, but still calling and occasionally pouncing or swooping down for a catch.
At one point, which was a real buzz, one turned and flew directly down the field at me. I have to admit to panicking for a couple of seconds when the focus wouldn't lock on but when it did, I had time for a couple of shots before the owl changed direction and flew away again.
With the autumnal colours from the trees behind, and sunlight on the birds, I have to say I'm rather pleased with the resulting shots. Arguably my best yet in flight. 

Needless to say I returned again the following day, though the light never really materialised, and the owls came out even later. The highlight though, if you can call it that, was seeing one perched in a tree. It was almost dark though, but because I didn't have my converter on, I was able to open the lens up to F4, whack the ISO up to 1000 and bring the speed down to 1/100th, and hope.
It came out remarkably well and is close to a full frame shot in portrait format. I think I might have to go again... and again! For the non-owl-lovers, you might need to look elsewhere for a few blog entries!


Max Silverman said...

Superb shots Pete.I am not at all jealous.

Christian said...

Just so that you know where we stand Pete - I think 'non owl lovers' are wierd. There, now that's cleared up, I can tell you how fantastic I think these shots are! Can't wait for more.