Short Eared Owls

07th February 2012
It's been a fantastic winter throughout the UK for these birds after their huge breeding season in Scandinavia. Unfortunately Powys has not benefited from this population explosion with only a scattering of birds around. There is one fairly local site which has one or two birds most years but they never show much, it is a barren, post industrial site, high on a mountain side in Gwent. It is an extremely cold, bleak, inhospitable place with old abandoned coal and iron workings and their subsequent slag heaps scarring the area.
I spent two afternoons absolutely freezing with no reward whatsoever, but on the third visit I was on the verge of giving up when I scanned a line of old concrete fencing posts for the last time, I thought I was seeing things, there was a bird sitting quietly staring at me from around a hundred yards away. There was only the last pinky glow of the setting sun for light, I racked the iso on the camera right up and thought right this is my last chance and I made my way quietly towards the bird until I got to the edge of an old railway cutting about 40 yards away. I had to use a corded shutter release because my hands were shaking with the cold. I took a few shots with the shutter making a Kerchunk noise as it does at about a twentieth of a second.
The bird tolerated me there, I think it felt sorry for me, and after about twenty shots it glided off into the gloom.
I couldn't wait to pack up and head off home, I was frozen, but at least I had some local shots!
Please see UK Birds.