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Short-eared Owl Encounter

This afternoon, I was lucky enough to join some friends at a short-eared owl site, about an hour away from me in Northamptonshire. There is a very large area of ‘set-aside’… farmland that has been left and thus there are a number of huge fields of rough grass, just perfect for owls. All the species of British owls have been recorded on this site, but the attraction at the moment is about 15 SEOs!! I have only seen them a couple of times before and have not had good sights really.

I arrived at about 3pm and the owls were already out hunting. They were truly stunning to watch… quartering the ground, rising up, twisting and dropping to the ground. They have very large wings, pale underside and golden body in the setting sun. Their wings are very heavily barred and their faces are amazing… I was completely captivated.

I had my 100-400mm lens with me but they were incredibly difficult to track, as they were quite a long way off and only a small dot in the viewfinder… trying to keep the focus point on them as they twisted and turned was really difficult! For a lot of the time, I just wanted to watch them through the binocular…. in fact the Bushnell Elite binoculars that I am trialling… FANTASTIC!!!

I stayed until it was dark, before heading home, thrilled that I had been privileged to be able to see such fantastic birds hunting in front of me.

Here are a few of my shots… cropped and a bit grainy as the light dropped really quickly. I was pleased with them though as they are my first photos of SEOs. Plenty of room for improvement, so I am hoping to return for another go…


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