26 Feb 2015

The Barn Owl

Two years ago looking out of the dining room window, suddenly a white flash went past along the outlying perimeter of the field at the bottom of the garden. In the 35 years of living here, the sublime Barn Owl had never made an appearance. As I was just starting out in my wildlife photography, I couldn't believe my luck. Here was the perfect opportunity to not only observe the Owl hunting but also capture it too. The Owl first made an appearance in early March 2013, but it wasn't until the 12th March that I was able to catch it with my camera. 

 One of the first captures with the Camera

During this visit the Owl also had another onlooker in the form of a Little Owl.

Little Owl onlooking on stump

To have two Owls appear at the same time, I really struck lucky. The Little Owl didn't stay long and promptly disappeared. The Barn Owl made several circuits hunting around for about 20 minutes for this visit.  It was the first time for me trying to capture a bird in flight and increasingly more difficult by the fact at that time I only had available with an adapter an old manual focus, fixed 300mm Lens.

The last pass of the evening at around 6:51pm

There were several more appearances over the next few weeks and then unfortunately there was no more sign of the Owl or Owls. I had found out through a neighbour, that the pair were nesting in woods just a few hundred metres away in a derelict Nissan Hut. I ventured to that area but alas never got to see them there myself. Not long after, in these woods some trees were felled and so I believe the pair were scared off by the activity. Another factor as well is that this particular field had just been taken over by a new renter (In fact a good farmer friend) and he soon mowed the field for Hay. So the perfect hunting environment for the pair had disappeared for them.


During these hunting sessions the Owl did make a few catches of mice. The above shot is one of a few times the Owl landed and made a catch in this same area over the next few visits that I was able to photograph. Having two trees in the field either side of the garden allowed me to use them for camouflage and capture these great moments where the Owl was on the ground. It did spot me on one occasion but didn't seemed disturbed by the fact I was there and even once seemed to display just for me!

Another in flight shot about 100ft away

Another rare occasion he rested on the fence at the back of the field. This gave me the chance to capture the moment of him resting in the general area, helping to portray where the Barn Owl is very likely to hunt.

Resting on the fence

On the move again from rest. In the Background Eastwell Manor.

March and April 2013 was a time that gave me a real insight into one of the most beautiful, peaceful, graceful Birds of Prey to reside in the UK. I long for the day for them to return but feel that will not happen anytime soon as the field now has sheep in, keeping the grass short and devoid of that long, untouched grassland perfect for the stunning Barn Owl to hunt.