When I heard from good friend, Pete Walkden, that his little owls were around and active, I was keen to get down to see them and also to set the Bushnell up there to see what I could capture! This great site is on a working farm and the owls nest in an old shed with a corrugated roof. You can never tell where they are going to pop up, but a selection of mealworms can tempt them to specific spots.
Despite it promising to be a very hot day, I met Pete on the site pretty early and there was still some cloud cover. The light was great and, with two hungry owlets to feed, the adult soon appeared, straight down in front of the Bushnell and then posing for me to take some pictures with my DSLR as well.
Within an hour we had the first glimpse of the youngsters. They are much fluffier than the adult, with less defined markings. Although a little wary, they soon gained confidence and appeared regularly on the roof and even once, briefly, on another perch.
I was keen to see what I could capture on the Bushnells and chose to use the 60cm close-up lens on two cameras that I set up. It can take some experimentation and trial & error to position the camera in the correct place to get the best shots. Pete’s knowledge and understanding of these little guys helped tremendously as we were able to predict quite accurately where they might be appearing.
Normally, the Bushnells would be used to monitor the site to see what was happening when we weren’t there, but sometimes its great to use them to simply film the wildlife that we are watching. I was not sure how they would react to the presence of the camera….. but I did not need to worry. In fact, these great little birds were quite interested in it and were not fazed at all! Living on working farms, often where machines and kit is moved around on a regular basis, owls such as this can be very adaptable and they get used to new items appearing. It gave me a great chance to get some pictures of them posing in front of the trail cams!
The first set up was on the corrugated roofing area…
The great advantage of watching whilst the trail cams record, is that I was able to regularly check the footage I was getting and adjust the camera and try different set-ups. Many just mount the cameras and leave them…. that’s what trail cams do best; record passing animals when we are not there, but this is just as much fun!
Here are some of the best clips…. (Make sure you select full HD to watch these clips, bu clicking on the cog icon on YouTube)
then a slight change in positioning……
Then I was lucky enough to capture some video of the adult and one of the youngsters….
…. and some screen captures…..
As you can see by the pics above, the footage was great! Sometimes they came a bit too close, but when they were in the right focal plane and the camera was positioned correctly, I captured some great sequences!
I also tried another set up… bit harder to position. Just as with photography, you have to consider the background of the image as much as the subject. I tried to position the Bushnell to show a bit of the barn and landscape behind as well as the top of the hen house roof, where they like to land….. we waited with bated breath to see if they would come down…. the adult took a while, but finally performed!
The youngsters had not been down to this perch yet, so we were both thrilled when one, then the other, popped down… just for a moment!
I was really pleased with the screen captures too!
Of course, it was not just Bushnell footage I wanted. I had my DSLR with me too, with the 100-400mm lens. Pete uses his car as a hide and the owls have become accustomed to his vehicle. This means there are excellent opportunities for photography. I took just a few photos!!! Below are some of my favourites…
If you would like to have a go photographing this lovely family, Pete is running workshop days for the next month or so. For details, take a look at his website page by clicking on the link below. I would thoroughly recommend it!