Wildlife Lockdown Encounters
With the local wood where I warden being a distance away, living in a small rural village meant much walking around the local field margins and tracks in the last few months. Thankfully I know and have permission from the local landowners, which meant I had several thousand acres and numerous small copse to wonder around with my camera.
Having been into wildlife photography for a number of years now I was quite happy going out and looking and photographing the local wildlife, although it did feel strange not seeing or speaking to anyone other than some of the local landowners from a good safe distance, as they worked the land
Highlights of my walks included finding a foxes earth, which resulted in some good photos, and a sighting of a roe deer as it emerged from the woodland and set off across the fields.
On one of my walks around the surrounding hedgerows, I found an area where I spotted both yellow hammers and white throats. So the next day I set up one of my pop up hides, tripod and camera and waited to see what came along. I wasn’t disappointed… it wasn’t too long before I managed to get picture of both the male and female yellow hammers, a male and the more secretive female whitethroat as well as some shots of the brown hare taken in the adjacent field.
Had this been all I had found I would have been happy, but more much more was to come! Whilst walking to the hide one evening, as I came close, I could see a shape sat on top of the hide. As I got slightly closer, it became obvious it was a barn owl! I returned to the hide the following morning with 6 foot length of tube with an old piece of wood attached to the end and placed this in the ground about 30,to 40 yards away from the hide to see if the Barny would come and perch on the wood…….
Success! The following evening along came Barny and promptly sat on top of the perch post, remaining there for a good 10 mins before returning to hunting and quartering the adjoining fields and margins around the dykes. This allowed me to get numerous photos of the barn owl , both in flight and close ups of it sat on the perch post. Brilliant, I thought, but things got even better….
On several occasions,as the sun set and in the distance, I had seen what looked to be a tawny owl flying along the side of an adjacent copse, too far away for good views or photos. Then, one evening, Barny landed on the post but within seconds flew off again. Unusual as I had found it would normally sit there for around 10 mins before resuming its hunting. Strange I thought, wondering why such a brief visit. I soon saw why, as the other owl came in and landed on the perch post; not a tawny owl as I had thought from the distant views, but a long eared owl!
I had never seen one in this area before. They usually inhabit pine woodland and although odd conifers are located in some of the copse nearby, it’s a good two to three miles in a straight line to the nearest conifer plantations.
Needless to say I took a good number of photos as it perched on the post I had set up. It just sat there totally un-phased by the sound of the camera being operated.
All the best ,stay safe
Des Lloyd, Volunteer Warden, Owlet Wood