Barn Owls start house hunting

06th June 2013
Again, apologies for the late edition but this took place whilst we had a very brief window of better weather in February.
My local Barn Owls have been very patchy in the consistency of their appearances in the last 2-3 years and according to the Barn Owl Trust and other organisations this year again their population has been devastated by the weather in particular the late snow/rainfall/cold we had in Feb/March. My area of South East England though has suffered slightly less as the late snow didn't get this far south.
However in February I noticed a barn Owl hunting my fields regularly and at on point I could almost guarantee a sighting 2-3 times a day with visits at c.0700am, 1300pm, and 1600pm. It coincided with school half term when I had taken 2-3 days off and some brief sunshine.
The first images were taken as the evening sunshine disappeared behind the trees but I managed to get in to a position where I expected him to hunt and the sun streamed through his wings to give this lovely backlit effect.

After several days of visits I noticed twice a second owl , presumably the mate of my existing one , in close proximity but alas never when I had the camera to hand. It seemed obvious they were scouting the area for food resources/nest sites combinations. My nest box hasn't been used for the last 2 years disappointingly but destruction of some local surrounding fields by either farmers/horse owners which were previous hunting grounds as I'm sure left my fields too isolated to attract a pair to deem the location viable to provide enough food for hungry chicks. Sure enough in subsequent days/weeks the visits got less and as I write this in June, I haven't seen an owl on the fields for several weeks as they have obviously settle elsewhere . You do wonder how much some so called "country lovers" actually do care one jot about the consequences of their actions....
However I managed to get a few images together before they moved on and the weather changed.
Here the Owl banked as I hid in the hedge and the sun just caught his eye. One of my favourite images.

I also had a close encounter of an Owl kind as with all my green clothing etc I remained well hid and the owl flew right above me and hovered as it investigated me with no apparent distress as it turned away in a combination of surprise and indignation that I might be in his field it seemed!

Again the light over 2-3 days remained wonderful as it approached sunset

I also tried an experiment by underexposing deliberately to darken the background to almost give a "graveyard" feel as the Barn Owl was quite some distance away. I converted to black and white to maintain that slightly eerie feeling as well as counteract the noise and grain appearing due to the low light and high ISO needed with the crop needed due to the distance away.

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