Me My Life My Owls

They say people have a way with certain animals and after 45 years doing wildlife photography it has come to my notice that The Owl is that Bird that i just seem to connect with. From 2015 i have researched and spent hundreds of hours looking for, helping and informing people about the Barn Owl. The Owl that has a very hard life surviving in this UK weather.
It all began when i came across a family living in a tree up in Bentham North Yorkshire. The work involved just to get the 3 land owners permission took a long time but it was worth it. I built a Barn Owl box and sited in one of the farmers old buildings. After that i consulted a Owl specialist to make sure my approach to filming them was in the guidelines and the Law in the UK protecting the Barn Owl.
It was well worth it and after a few visits to the site i made a plan that i would stick to in order not to disturb in any way the Barn Owl in its natural habitat. It ended up as one of most memorable experience with a wild bird..
I followed the family to the day they fledged, and all i can say it felt so good to see the Owlets leave the nest and fly into the trees close by.

After this amazing experience my aim was to do more research about the Barn Owl, i also had 3 locations where the Barn Owl could be helped by having more nest boxes to use for roosting or to nest in.

Then my work came to a grinding halt with Hip problems meaning a step back until my operation, i carried on looking for new sites but gradually i could not get out to film or enjoy the summer evenings. So after the operation in 2018 i made it back to full fitness by March 2019 and returned to our van in Goodenbergh Country Holiday Park Low Bentham. I had a wildlife Hide that i built 5 years previous and it become the go to place to see 60 species of bird. I also posted a daily blog for 6 years on all the birds and animals that i had photographed which can be seen on the sites website.

Returning to the hide on my first week would give me the second close up encounter with the Barn Owl

The World Owl Trust Newsletter Centre Pages

In March 2019 I had an experience with a wild Barn Owl.

In 2020 I captured images of a Barn Owl in flight, and posted them on the World Owl Trust Facebook page.

Shortly after, I was contacted by the CEO of the Trust asking if he could use my images.

After contacting the trust I told my story about the owl experience, and they also asked if they could use my story for the newsletter.

I received an email today with a copy of my story in the newsletter.

I have screenshot the story below.

As the story goes i went back next day and set my pop up hide up and waited only 20 mins when the Barn Owl i had rescued landed 20 feet away and sat there posing for me. All i can think is it was her way of saying thank you for saving her life. I say Her as she has brown specs on her breast which means its a female. So my heart raced and i just kept saying Please let my settings be ok. These are the outstanding images of her posing and looking right down my lens.

The same year i met a Ranger up on the moors who gave me some great information on another family of Barn Owls high up on the moors in a Barn. Very excited i made a few visits but didn’t manage to see anything. One morning in May i arrived early and sat down in the field that was backing onto the barn but a good distance from the building as not to scare the Owl. This was the first morning when i sat and waited with bated breathe when the White Angel flew silently out of the barn and landed on the stone wall that i was leant against.

I got ready and it happened so quick it flew off the wall and was gone before i could say Wow. Luckily i captured 2 beauties.

Time passed and things in the world took a change and my daily life of photography and adventure would be limited to local area and would lead me to my next experience with the bird i love so much. 2 days before lockdown i went back to where i had seen a Barn Owl 8 years before on the off chance that one would still be using the building to roost or breed.

I really did not not expect to arrive and stand in a the same place i had done years before and see the beautiful shape of the Barn Owl gliding silent across the field where i was having a coffee. I just watched and left the camera as i was again in dreamland. How is it when i look for a certain species of bird that the Barn Owl just appears without any effort. Yes you could say my knowledge of where i have seen them and when they hunt helps but its just amazing how easy they come to me.

So knowing i had 2 days to see if i could get some images and write a story i set up against and old Hawthorne tree in my 3D Leaf suit, this suit gives me great cover from being seen, as this is the last thing i want. From Human or Animal sight. It wasn’t long before the Barn Owl came out and put on a fantastic display of hunting for me and i observed it diving just for practice time and time again. It was like it was saying Lockdown is coming Ron so i will do some action for you so you can write about me.

The images i captured 2 days before we had to isolate are some of my best images of a Barn Owl in Action. Every angle covered, wing shape and talons, the beautiful face all captured in 2 days but more like 2 hours of filming.

It was after posting on social media that i was contacted out of the blue by the the World Owl Trust asking me if it would be ok to use my images for information and on the website. I was very excited and i was asked if one image in particular could be used for the front cover of the Annual Newsletter. Over the moon was an understatement. My images even inspired the founder of the World Owl Trust in some way and he called me thanking me for sharing my images on the website.

Images 2 days before lockdown

The Butterfly Affect

The story goes, leaving the location i had a coffee which took a minute,

I then drank it

i then started to drive when i saw a metal object in the road.

I could have drove round it.

I stopped and got out and pushed it to the side of the road.

My hands were covered in mess so i pulled into a entrance of a house.

At that moment a Lady came out and waved, i wound my window down.

She said hello are you ok, yes but my hands are dirty after moving an object from the road.

Let me get you a tissue, What are you doing hear she asked.

Filming the Barn Owl i said. O that’s wonderful Christine replied, you can park here in front of my house if you need a safe place to park.

That was the start of something wonderful.

But you could say, if i had not had a coffee, i would not have seen the metal object.

If i had not seen it and removed it my hands would not have been dirty.

So if my hands were not not dirty i would not have stopped in the ladies entrance.

So i would have not met Christine.

The Butterfly Effect.

Speaking to Christine and finding out how much she loves her birds and has a passion like me to help them and create lovely feeding stations for them, was The Door closing from my beautiful site in Bentham to a new one opening back home in my local area. Things got even better when i passed on some beautiful printed images of the Barn Owl to Christine. She informed me that her friend owned the farm where the Barn Owl lives and that i could feel safe to film it without any worry from upsetting anyone.

So the plan was made to use the field that belong to Christine and set up a Hide where i could sit in cover and admire the Barn Owl as it quartered back and forth hunting feet away from me. Knowing behaviour of a species of bird comes in so handy, its not just having the best equipment and location, you need knowledge and understanding of the bird your filming. The bird comes first at all times and i have a strict rule, don’t get seen or heard. The Owl has my total respect and at no time will i disturb or intrude on what is its life in the wild.

This is why when you see the images there natural and show the beauty of this amazing bird hunting and showing the grace and agility it has to keep alive and raise a family.

Written by

I am 63 years old and and since a boy have had an interest in wildlife and in particular birds. I help my Dad with the rearing of young finches and other birds. I had many small birds as pets and as i got older and joined the Military i purchsed my first Camera, and fold out Kodak. Over a 22 year period i enjoyed many countries outside the uk and observed many species of birds. When i left the military in 2000, i bought my first digital camera a Canon 450D with a Tamron 70-300 and started my journey on capturing images of birds and animals. I quickly learned that there was a lot more to getting a good image of a bird, so i started to research the best settings for my camera in order to capture a better image. Over a 12 month period i realised that needed to invest in a better camera and lens and after research bought a Canon 50D and a 100-400 Lens. It was 2013 when i really got to grips with the setup and came across a lovely Short Eared Owl. From that meeting i started to concentrate on Owls as they fasinated me. From Canon to Olympus i recently jumped ship again to Sony. The variety of birds i have captured over a 10 year period is vast and at present i have a wildlife hide in lancashire where most of my images are captured.

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