Early start in hope of Short Eared Owls

After a few failed attempts over the last few weeks, I got up before first light in hope to photograph a known location where Short Eared Owls have been showing well at first and last light.

Just as the sun started to rise above the tree line I wasn’t disappointed.

Whilst waiting, a Vole came scampering straight past where I was standing. I actually muttered something along the lines of “you’d better hide” and suddenly from the other side of the hedge I was backed-up against, a “Shortie” came swooping over. I’m not so sure who was more spooked, me, the Owl or the Vole. The Owl didn’t continue it’s swoop and the Vole survived being eaten.

The promise of clear skies wasn’t looking too great as a large thick cloud covered the sunrise. The Owl perched up in a tree, so I calmly walked towards it a few inches at a time. I got to about 20 metres and decided that was close enough. I quickly attached my 1.4x teleconverter to the 500mm and fired off a few shots.

{Click image for a higher resolution, click Flickr Link in caption to view photo on Flickr}

Short Eared Owl
Wide Eyed – D810, AF-S 500mm f/4 with TC-14III @ 700mm, f/8, ISO2000, 1/160sec – {Flickr Link}

Short Eared Owl
Heard something – D810, AF-S 500mm f/4 with TC-14III @ 700mm, f/8, ISO2000, 1/160sec – {Flickr Link}

I even had enough time to shoot a short video clip. {Remember to watch in HD if possible}


It stayed too dark for any decent flight photos for a while and soon the clouds cleared up but I just couldn’t get in the right position for anything close enough. There were 2 birds flying around and they did have a bit of a coming together, however, I didn’t manage to see clearly if this was a fight or a courtship.

I did manage to get some more shots of one of them sitting in the (now very bright) sunlight.

Short Eared Owl
On the lookout – D810, AF-S 500mm f/4 with TC-14III @ 700mm, f/8, ISO560, 1/1250sec – {Flickr Link}
Short Eared Owl
Looking right at me – D810, AF-S 500mm f/4 with TC-14III @ 700mm, f/8, ISO560, 1/1250sec – {Flickr Link}

If you compare the first two and last two photos, you can see the difference in light levels by how open/closed the Owl’s eyes are.

I will now be going back as often as I can to get some more shots including some flight shots.

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