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This evenings owls

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 Bottom Clinger 11 Jun 2024

Just had one of my Wildlife Moments this evening. Long eared owl. In Wigan !  It’s been very dull and dark all day, but as the sun dipped below the cloud the owl appeared, illuminating its wing feathers. Wished that I’d risked a faster shutter speed, but it’s not easy with low light levels and a quick moving bird. 


 Rob Exile Ward 12 Jun 2024
In reply to Bottom Clinger:

I have no idea how you get these shots. Brilliant, just brilliant.

 wintertree 12 Jun 2024
In reply to Bottom Clinger:

Fantastic.  Gives me something unattainable to aspire to!

 Georgert 12 Jun 2024
In reply to Bottom Clinger:

Absolutely mega.

In reply to Bottom Clinger:

Excellent. Have to look out for one of these.

Both the short eared owl pair and the tawny owls I’ve seen this year have all now disappeared from view; wrong place, wrong time for me I guess!

 nniff 12 Jun 2024
In reply to Bottom Clinger:

Wonderful.

I'm getting better at spotting things after following your advice

In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> I have no idea how you get these shots. Brilliant, just brilliant.

Lots of effort, time, luck and, in  this case, detective work ! They are an extremely rare breeding bird round here, so this was MEGA. 

In reply to Climbing Pieman:

They do roost a Cameroon. I’ve chatted to a regular round there , and he’s said ‘they’d where, but I’ve never seen one’.  So I would t hold the breath. 
Anyway, I’m going to bide my time with the weather etc and re-visit this place. 

 Derek Furze 13 Jun 2024
In reply to Bottom Clinger:

Stunning!  Really lovely to see.

 BusyLizzie 13 Jun 2024
In reply to Bottom Clinger:

Wow!!

 Michael Hood 14 Jun 2024
In reply to Bottom Clinger:

Great stuff, your reputation as an owl magnet continues 😁

Question, from those photos alone, what identifies it as a long-eared rather than a short-eared, the "ear" tufts aren't really visible - the only thing that I can see (before going and checking in a guide) is orange eyes, IIRC SE are yellow. Are there other identifying differences that I've missed in those photos?

I know a spot where there reputedly are LE Owls (seen SE there and Barn), roosting somewhere in a line of about 8 fir trees - but they're so thick there's no way you'd spot them in the tree and I've not had any luck seeing them out and about.

Did hear a Nightjar there the other evening though - literally as I was talking to someone about Grasshopper Warblers, "isn't that one" I said, "no that's a Nightjar, never heard one so early here" - I didn't even know they were around there.

In reply to Michael Hood:

Main thing: Shorties have prominent black wing tips, Longies don’t. Longies have more streaking.

Was chatting to someone at Penny flash the other day - they’d seen Longies in a place that sounded exactly (100.00%) like your description.  And a mate has seen nightjars. And well done on the nightjar - yet to see/hear one. Might pay a visit.

Post edited at 16:48
 Ian Parsons 16 Jun 2024
In reply to Bottom Clinger:

I have a question. There are a couple of very fluffy young tawny owls [I think] that live in trees across the lane from me. They're very vocal; constant squeaking, especially if I do something noisy at night - like opening a door, or sneezing! When I returned from this evening's walk they were in a different tree - about 20 yards away from the first one. Can [tawny] owls fly earlier than one would expect? [I'm assuming they're not very good at walking!]

I forgot to add: or am I hearing more owls here than I thought. Which would be marvellous!

Post edited at 06:43
 Michael Hood 16 Jun 2024
In reply to Ian Parsons:

I'd be very surprised if there were two owl nests that close together so the youngsters must have made the journey somehow 😁

They won't be fluffy for long, enjoy them squeaking away while you can.

In reply to Ian Parsons:

My learning this year from watching two Tawny Owlets.

They learn to walk and climb, growing stronger out of the nest firstly nearby. By around 2 weeks they are into the branching phase (walking/wing flapping/etc further developing muscles and skills). Using branches to move around they progresses into jumping between branches with a basic flapping of wings (still downy). They can walk on the ground and climb trees. 

Branching allows them to “travel”. The two I observed moved in stages to a large oak tree (est. 20-25m in height) which was some 150m “direct line” up hill from the starting point. In the final oak tree (final as in the last tree I saw them in) before disappearing, they moved up and down the tree depending on weather (wind, sun).

Amazing to see how far they moved even within one tree. One sunny day they were about 1.5 m from the top of the canopy on thin moving branches, later they had moved down into the middle. Other days down in around the middle of the tree most of the time; probably easier for a parent to feed as it was more open. I once observed an adult fly in, pass some prey to an owlet, and then fly out, all in under a minute.

A few times the owlets disappeared from any view for a day or two; once after thunder, lightening and heavy downpours for example, but still returned to that oak tree in a visible location. At around 4.5 weeks they moved on though I never saw them again. Maybe semi fledged or still part of the branching phase but on to more adventurous things.

AKAIK from the web, tawny owl fledge about 5 weeks and are supported by the parents for up to 3 month thereafter.

 Ian Parsons 16 Jun 2024
In reply to Michael Hood:

> I'd be very surprised if there were two owl nests that close together so the youngsters must have made the journey somehow 😁

Good point. Hadn't thought of that;

 Ian Parsons 16 Jun 2024
In reply to Climbing Pieman:

Fascinating; thanks very much.

They've been audible at night for a while now - several weeks, probably - but the intensity has increased. They originally seemed to be located in or around 'Tree #1', one of a line of poplars overhanging a rural lane. Last Sunday [9th], arriving home from an evening stroll during which I'd already spotted three other owls, I noticed that the noise had moved to the vicinity of Tree #2 - another poplar about 50 yards along the lane. I actually saw them for the first time on Friday evening [14th], back in Tree #1. It was only about 8 or 9 o'clock - so still daylight; they must have heard or seen me moving about and started squeaking so I just followed the noise and spotted them in the foliage about 30 feet above the road. At about 11.30 last night [Saturday] they were very visible in Tree #2 again, on a low branch about 20 feet up. Clearly very mobile!

Edit: my earlier '20 yards' was a very poor top-of-the-head guestimate; I've since paced it out.

Post edited at 15:42
In reply to Ian Parsons:

Tawny owlets are excellent tree climbers, so there’s a good chance they climbed/fell/futtered diwn form one tree, hoped along the ground and climbed up the other tree. 
edit: just seen CP’s more accurate reply 

Post edited at 18:18
 Michael Hood 16 Jun 2024
In reply to Bottom Clinger:

No LE Owls but just spent an hour enjoyably watching a couple of Barn Owls 😁 (until the rain set in properly) in the field that gets very popular for watching SE Owls in winter - there must be a lot of voles in that field.

I don't think they were a pair because one of them spent a lot of time sitting in the fir trees on the "far side" of the field, but when the other one caught something (and it got at least 2 when I was watching - presuming that it was the same owl that came back) it flew off with the kill in the opposite direction.

Bloody insects though, even though I was wearing a balaclava, I suspect I've been bitten quite a few times ☹

Also I suspect I flushed a Jack Snipe but no way to be sure because i) it was as the light was fading, ii) I've never had to differentiate between Jack & "normal" Snipe; but my initial thought was "Snipe", immediately followed by "but it's not making any noise, it's staying low and it's landed not that much further away" - but in an inaccessible boggy bit that'd need waders to get closer.

 Michael Hood 16 Jun 2024
In reply to Michael Hood:

Too late to edit previous post, just realised that Jack Snipe's a winter visitor so extremely unlikely to be that, maybe just a "normal" snipe behaving abnormally.

And 10-12 insect bites around my forehead ☹️, taken antihistamine and slapped antihistamine cream on, hopefully won't look too silly tomorrow 😁 - I don't normally miss not having a full head of hair anymore but it'd be useful as an anti-bite layer.

Post edited at 23:51
 mbh 17 Jun 2024
In reply to Bottom Clinger:

Your photos are amazing. What sort of camera/lens would be good enough to do something similar, given a huge dollop of knowledge and skill in how to use them properly?

Post edited at 06:38
 Mike_d78 17 Jun 2024
In reply to mbh:

For owls (where you are typically seeing them in low light). Depending on your image quality requirements, I'd suggest you need a DSLR type camera (mirrorless or not) with either an MFT, apsc or full frame sensor and a lens with approx minimum equivalent 600mm focal length. You would typically expect low light performance to deteriorate moving from FF to apsc to MFT sensor.

Since you have not mentioned camera & lens size I have ignored this aspect but FF is biggest with MFT smallest!

Post edited at 11:56

 mbh 17 Jun 2024
In reply to Mike_d78:

Thank you.

In reply to mbh:

Mikes reply is good. I use a second hand Nikon D810 and a second hand sigma 150 - 600 mm. It’s heavy but takes good photos, esp in low light. The camera is developing the odd fault (it’s part held together by sellotape !), and when I get a new one I would get the OM camera which some folk on this site use. It’s half the weight of mine. 
I was also recently treated to a Sony bridge camera (see threads on the photography section). £850 second hand mint condition. It’s super light, takes great photos, but would struggle with some bird photography like owls. I spend that much time walking around with birding clobber that my neck was agony carry all the gear, so I went for a lightweight option. I still love my big Nikon though, and will use it for short days or bird hides when I can lay it on a ledge. 
Edit: go on the Bird Feeder thread, those photos of mine were all taken with my Sony DSC 10 mk 4, they’re as good/nearly as good I would get with my dslr, but it was close range. 

Post edited at 15:58
 mbh 17 Jun 2024
In reply to Bottom Clinger:

Thank you that is really helpful. Our bird-mad grown-up boys are asking. Thanks so much for all these great photos.

 Michael Hood 17 Jun 2024
In reply to mbh:

As you will no doubt be aware, optics (bins, scopes, cameras, lenses) are a bottomless money pit where you always find occasions where you want that little bit more (until you've forked out £000s & £000s for the absolute best).

So whilst I haven't got any technical advice, I would recommend starting off cheap and maybe second hand. This should give you a much better feel of what's missing and what you actually want which will enable you to purchase a much more satisfactory item when committing serious money.

In reply to mbh:

To add to other comments, I would suggest not forgetting about what post processing software nowadays can do especially if you are going to shoot raw. Your choice of camera maybe different if you are happy to accept improvements in post rather than straight out of camera jpeg. Advances of software have been incredible. I can recover some poorly taken photos (eg shooting birds with the sun behind, in low levels of light) in post that years ago would have just been binned.

As for camera/lens it all depends on your needs and expectations.

I went MFT years ago for reasons of size, weight, general ergonomics as well as very high up my list of needs was the IBIS. I could never take a lot of my photos I take without having image stabilisation and I have that now both in body and in lens which are synced. I generally only shoot handheld so stabilisation is essential for me.

BTW I bought Olympus, now OM Systems, as my choice of MFT and they have far exceed my expectations for my level of hobby photography over the years. I would recommend them if you accept their limitations.

A recent photo as an example which is 600 mm FF equivalent. Higher noise levels with low light, but I am rather lazy at changing lenses!! 🙄🫣


 mbh 18 Jun 2024
In reply to Climbing Pieman:

Thanks all for your very interesting and thoughtful replies.


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