Welcome to my birdwatching blog. This blog will contain stories about my bird watching trips, interesting bird news and other tales that may or may not be bird related. I want to make it useful to the avid birder as well as those who may only have a passing interest in bird watching. I enjoy photographing bird life, common and rare through a spotting scope, not that they always sit still long enough for me. Being on the outskirts of North East London, my reports will not only cover my local patch of Redbridge/Waltham Forest, but also dip into deepest Essex, Suffolk, Kent and Norfolk.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Little Owls – not exactly a stroll in the park

About a month ago, I saw a friend put an image, an excellent image I might add of a Little Owl on his Facebook timeline. I was intrigued. I hadn’t seen a little owl for some time – probably over 2 years in fact so I was keen to find out where he took the pictures.

As it turned out, there were a pair of owls and they were close to my previous home in Buckhurst Hill, Essex. The only slight issue was that the birds liked to hang around a few oaks that surrounded a children’s’ playground. Not a good look if you are over 50 and carry binoculars and a telescope to take pictures!

It was clearly an early morning visit that was called for. So at 6.30am I set off the couple of miles it would take to get to the park that was also part of the Roding Valley NR. 

Not many people around at 6.40am on a Saturday morning with the exception of a couple of joggers and a cyclist. The play area was empty with only a few magpies loitering about. A ring-necked parakeet squawked overhead warning all of my presence. Thanks pal. A bird flew from one of the oaks. Its undulating flight pattern gave it away before if landed awkwardly in an adjacent tree. I worked my way around towards it hiding behind trees like a comedy villain. Bugger, it saw me, (well they do have good eyesight) and it flew up higher into the oak and out of sight. This wasn’t going to be easy.

I held my ground and waited. Before long a second little owl appeared and sat quite provocatively out in the open. It wasn’t close but I used the opportunity to get at least a couple of shots in the camera.

It wasn’t a great shot but It was better than anything I had taken before of this species. The owls were being a little more active now as the sun started to burn off the early morning wisps of cloud. The next lot of shots were laughable. They seems to know I was trying to take their picture and just wouldn’t play ball. They always appeared on the wrong side of the light and I was forced to shoot into the sun. This homage has been smothered in Photoshop CC.

Then they disappeared for about 15 minutes. I walked around the park trying to locate them but was about to go home to try again another day when they both appeared on a bare branch in the sun...I mean the sun was on them and behind me and I was the closest I had been and didn’t have to move towards them one bit. Now, don’t bloody move my darlings...

My favourite of the set.

Now they were fighting to be photographed.
After this, they flew off over to another tree. I knew I had some good shots and it wasn’t even 7.30am. Home for breakfast then Braunie I thought. Brilliant way to spend an hour when most would be having a lie in. Fools!

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