My final evening with the Barn Owl.

27th February 2016
There was only one thing missing from my encounter with this beautiful Owl and that was just one decent flight image. I have refused all opportunities to photograph her in flight because I didn’t want to spook her by moving the lens and spoil the chance of a perched image. I have literally hundreds of Barn Owl flight photographs, in the main from Norfolk, but decent perched Barn Owl photographs don’t come around too often, especially here in the Beacons. I am now satisfied with the half decent perched shots I have managed and it’s not about getting ‘The Best’ shot, it’s about being close to a very special bird. If you want ‘That’ shot go to a bird of prey centre where they will perch in front of you.

The only trouble with getting images from places such as this and other places where situations have been created for people, eg Kingfisher, Sparrowhawk etc etc is that it’s not really your photograph.
The image is really the person's who created the situation that you pay to use!
That’s why I will never go to any of them - these places are not for me.
Anyway I’ve put the soap box back in the shed for another year.

For the final time, the night before last my wife Susan and I went down to the Owl location, I collected some fallen Ash branches and pushed them into the soft ground, I strung some camo netting across them and we both sat down behind it and waited. About an hour past when we could see the Owl flying around, we both pulled our scarves up over our faces and tucked in. It’s important to cover your face and hands because these birds will detect a white ‘object’ from some distance and they will become suspicious and avoid coming near.
She flew low over the meadow and came closer and closer, Susan kept her binoculars up to her eyes to hide what little white skin was showing above the camo net and I hid behind the camera. For these situations and indeed for all the perched shots, I have used a corded shutter release. This way you don’t have to move your hands much, just hold the bottom of the camera with one hand and control the focussing remotely. For me it’s all about cutting down your movement!
The Owl came right up to where we were hidden and we had some glorious views of her as she hunted in the evening light. Finally she swept over us and just gave a cursory glare as she realised we were there.

She disappeared into the fields and we packed up and left very contented indeed.
It's been a special experience for me and now Susan, to see this stunning bird up close, but now it’s time to leave her to hopefully find a mate and start a new generation, I really hope so.