Wednesday 30 August 2023

Barn Owl near Market Harborough - 23 August 2023

Earlier in the year, I watched a YouTube video by Mike Lane which covered a session he had at Des Ong's raptor/Barn Owl hide near Market Harborough. During the day he had been able to photo a Kestrel and later on, Barn Owls appeared, initially in daylight and then after dark. 

This got my attention as I'd never heard of this hide before, and I had never previously had the chance to photo Barn Owls from a hide. So I quickly arranged a date in July with Des. Unfortunately the forecast for that session was atrocious so I asked to postpone it. The next mutually convenient date was 23 August - much later than I had hoped for.  

By August, all of the session, which started at 20:30, was in darkness, so there was no chance of any daylight photos. After dark, lighting is provided not by flash but continuous LED lights which limits the max shutter speed to 1/100 sec, so there was no chance of any action shots. 

When we arrived, we were told that the pair of Barn Owls, which nest very close to the hide, were onto a second brood, but this was at the egg/small young stage. 

Once installed in the "trailer hide" we were told to be as quiet as possible and not to use any light. This was somewhat challenging and the odd brief use of the torch was needed. It was also a warm and very still night.

All started well, as one of the owls arrived almost immediately we were settled in at 21:00 and stayed for about ten minutes. But unfortunately, for whatever reason, there were then no further visits for the remainder of the session, which ended abruptly at 23:00. So a somewhat tedious couple of hours - although every so often an owl would fly into a nearby tree to get our hopes up. But it always then just flew off. 

However, that one visit did provide a reasonable range of shots, as shown below. 

Because of the dearth of visits, Des has agreed we can return for a free session. So hopefully next year some day time photos will be possible, and there will be more visits, if we time it right. 

Click on the captions to see large images on my website

Barn Owl at the end of a post © Stephen Burch

Barn Owl face on © Stephen Burch

Barn Owl sideways on © Stephen Burch

Barn Owl front view © Stephen Burch

Barn Owl close up © Stephen Burch

Barn Owl with large mouse © Stephen Burch

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