Monday, 28 November 2011

Short eared owls galore!


SEO_22, originally uploaded by Christopher Mills.

Having been put off Rodmell by the inability of some people to play nicely, I've been concentrating on an area closer to home this week. Waltham Brooks is somewhere I've been a few times before. It's a beautiful location beside the Arun with the south downs as a backdrop - sunsets can really be special here.

Having caught a few "nearly" shots in the week, Sunday presented the best evening light for some time. Rain the preceding evening had convinced me that (despite my preference of avoiding Sundays) it would be worth the trip... and it certainly was! I counted six owls in view at one point - there may well have been more. I didn't get the shot I really wanted, but this will have to do for now!

The big advantage Waltham has over Rodmell is that it's somewhat circular and much easier to get below the horizon line. The owls are already quite near, and basic fieldcraft gets some quite astonishingly close encounters. If there's one thing I need to do to improve my shots, it's stop gaping in awe at their presence and remember to press the shutter release!

The real problem with photographing animals at publicly accessible sites is that it's hard to get away from the masses, particularly at weekends when the weather is good. The best preparation can be wasted if someone in a bright pink hat stands on top of a bank yards from your chosen spot. But that's the nature of the game, people love to watch birds and (whilst I may grumble a bit under my breath!) it's important that we continue to appreciate our wildlife and it's habitat. It would be nice, however, if people refrained from roaming around all over the place with a camera without any consideration for others. Not only is it frustrating when you've put time and effort into selecting a spot for concealment and image potential, but it gives ALL wildlife photographers a bad name.

While I'm on the subject of bad practises - I've seen a number of annoyed postings on the SOS site from twitchers concerned by people leaving the track at Rodmell. Whilst the behaviour of certain individuals was questionable, it would not spoil the chances of viewing from the track. In fact, standing in the open like that is much more likely to disturb the owls - they have no perception of human footpaths! From an SEO's perspective, there would be a group of human shapes, some with predators (dogs) and artificial, unusual outlines (tripods, scopes, etc). Throw in perfume, brightly coloured clothes and talking and you are as much of a problem as someone stomping around the field.

Unfortunately some people simply don't understand the creatures they are watching, or how to act around them.

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree with you more Chris, but that's life.

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