"Operation noctua" begins...

February 20, 2012  •  Leave a Comment
  • Each time I've driven the couple of miles (or so) from our house to check on the little owls recently, I've been rewarded with seeing the pair together - so I thought today I'd speak to the farm manager and begin my little owl photography project - "Operation noctua".
  • The farm manager and I spoke again this morning and he has very kindly given me access to the two fields that the owls tend to stick to at present. One of the fields has three mature oak trees  - one of which contains the barn owl box which the little owls bred in last year (before I was a local myself) and seem intent on doing so again this year.
  • Operation noctua will be a long-winded project - even though little owls are not schedule 1 birds, i.e. not protected under law (primarily because they are not native UK birds), I do not want to unduly disturb them or jeopardise any breeding attempt, just because I'd like a photo or two - my main desire is to follow the family and get a photo or two if I am lucky.
  • Because of the above, I drove up to the box today, and placed a "dummy camera" on top of the cattle shed roof the owls like to perch on. The cattle shed itself (one of two) is forty metres or so from the owl box. This dummy camera ( a black torch taped to a small length of white guttering will introduce an unfamiliar object to the owls, with a view to replacing it with my own camera (with me nearby in my ghillie suit, with my radio remote trigger in my hands after a month or so and when I get some time to spend hours in the field.
  • I hope the owls aren't spooked by the dummy camera  -  if I get the feeling they are, I'll remove it immediately and think again.
  • The reason I am being so cautious with these owls is a) I want them to breed,  b) the owl box is in a tree in the middle of a field with no appreciable cover nearby - the only place I have to hide from these owls is behind a large tree trunk - not ideal for me but very good for the owls.... and c) I only have a 200mm lens to take photos with - almost all professional willdife photographers these days have a socking 500mm or 600mm lens - which enables them to take photos from distance - I don't have that luxury -I have to get within a few metres of my quarry....
  • So..... my little owl project, "Operation noctua" was launched today. Fingers crossed I'll get to follow these lovely wee birds all summer....

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