Saturday, 4 August 2012

A Few MIles Up The Road

I left my last blog update with the entry of a beautiful Barn Owl, since that visit to a new site; I have found my self there nearly every night. Not only one Owl but number up to four, with sightings of Long Eared Owls and a few whispers of Short Eared Owls around that area too. Seems to be an amazing year for owls, with sightings of different species not too far part up and down the North East coast. My little trips have become routine, I think I might have fell in love with Owls a little too much, even started dreaming about the silent hunters. But how can you not, when a creature I find so mesmerising and majestic to watch. Sightings are so close, at times you could just reach, grab and pet., you might be minus a few fingers and clawed to death,, but sometimes it is possible. From driving up the road, the barn owl can be seen gliding from field to field, scowering the land for a meal, and returning to the barn with successful finds, and not but a mile up form the road another pair can be seen. The later night trips out seem to be easier for me to handle, my body doesn’t seem to complain as much with a 8 at night start. I have struggled with an early morning outing, I need to invest in an alarm clock with no snooze button, I think I might have ran out of fingers on my hands to say the “I can count on these hands how many times ive slept in”. Even though I tell my self every night “ I will get up early, I will get up early”, I just cant do it. That might show lack of dedication, but thats not the case, half the time i don't know I'm pressing snooze, when i go to sleep, i must turn into Jekyl or Hyde? 

The evening shots are great, but the time is limited with the sun setting, there is only so much time you can spend before the ISO is boosted and the images are as grainy as sand, the owls normal time to come out and play don’t seem to want to match with the light needed to get a great shot. At times I just go out just to watch, and others I just wish I managed the morning so the light was on my side, but its great to see them doing so well. Although I have not seen any fledglings of owlets yet, I am hopeful since a pair seems to taking a lot of food back to the barns. However talking to a few people, the Owls should be up and ready about now since the breeding happens earlier in the year. Stories have been told of a few pair with owlets, but like I say, nothing to be seen yet. Form the Barn Owls, however a successful pair of Long Eared owls have just parted with their newly ringed owlets, which again boosts the anticipation for a great year for owls, and the majority of migrating owls staying put.

Having watched them for a few nights I decided to try and break the routine and head back to my patch and check on how the Fox den was doing, Not very much activity, but then again I have not exactly sussed out their timings and the usual times they decide to leave the den, apart form one cub who likes to bask in the light in a secluded spot. So a much needed hide has just purchased, which I’m hoping to set up once delivery has been taken, and then a purchase of a camera trap which will have to wait a while longer, since the pockets have seemed to stop stretching (there’s only so much stretching you can do you have enough space to park a double decker bus).  But I am pleased that they seem to enjoying them selves around that area. My only concern is for the two-legged rats that walk around with their dogs. Some peoples thoughts on wildlife, is how to kill it, I don’t seem to understand how people can watch in satisfaction whilst their pets rip shreds out of other animals, obviously not right in the head.

            Anyway…. after quite little chat with my self, I made my self get up early one morning, it was painful, but the tiresome efforts of trying to get good shots at night was leaving me restless, and the determination to get a half decent shot was making me feel like I needed to get up.  So it was half two in the morning, and I decided to go to sleep, (this probably answers the question on why I cant get up, but hey ho) and the alarm rand at 5am, I have to admit a small snooze of ten mins happened, but after that a give my face a few slaps and sat up right trying to peel my eye lids apart. I could feel myself drifting back to sleep, so turned the mac on, wacked in the hard drive, and played a movie to entertain my eyes in to waking up. Was pleased I did it in away, watched a great film called The Big Miracle, amazing film about 3 gray whales tapped in ice around Alaska. A must for any wildlife enthusiast. So the  half the film was watched, and I was up ready and camera over my shoulder. Upon arrival to the site,  a sighting of the cuckoo I seen the previous night,  was sighted in exactly the same spot, and then not only a few seconds later, two barn owls hovering different parts of the march ponds. With what seemed like more time on their hands, the barn owls tended to spent the majority of their time of the odd fence post, but not any where near the hide that I was sitting in, of course the hide located across the filed was perfect for any kind of shot, it even got the point where I think you could have managed a macro shot. However I waited, and waited, telling my self that my luck would come and soon enough I would be leaving to drive home with a jam packed memory card and a huge smile on my face.  After what seemed to be a lifetime of waiting, they began to move, post by post, until literally I don’t think they could have got any closer to me. At this point I don’t think my cameras shutter button was pressed so hard in I’m surprised I didn’t push t through to the bottom of the camera. Frantic to get a great shot, I continued to press until I think the cameras processing speeds started to give up.  At this point the barn owl was growing restless of that spot, and up he rose, circled a bit then something must have caught its eye, it hovered up, then dived with talons fully extended. An amazing sighting to watch and to watch so close was even better. Although the catch was unsuccessful, it wasn’t long before tits talons were fully grasping food ready to be taken back to the nest