Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Little Owl

Little Owl landing, backlit by early morning sun
The last Saturday of May. It is still early morning, and I am cold, getting cramped already, hunched over a camera in the confined space of a hide.

Outside, the sun is well above the horizon. Insects play in the shafts of light created by the shadow of an oak tree. The sky above the tree line is deep blue. It is going to be a gorgeous day.

Martin and Neil are sitting next to me in the hide; Neil with binoculars to his eyes, peering through the camouflage netting.

We wait. A few pigeons and jackdaws cross our view, but not the elusive quarry we are here for. The minutes pass like treacle.

A whisper from Neil. "Movement". Quiet. We still wait. "The male is on his high branch in the oak". From my angle, and with the scrim in front of me, I still can't see the bird. But I can feel the tension rise, and I check my camera settings once more, fearful of missing the moment.

"He's coming". I hear him first -- the slight slap of the wings as the bird approaches. I've got him. The camera's viewfinder blinks repeatedly in front of me as I hold down the shutter to get a series of pictures.

And there he is. My heart is beating with delight that the morning's promise is fulfilled. Backlit by early morning sun, the little owl sits on a perch in front of me. He turns and fixes me through my viewfinder with a stare that communicates that he knows I'm here, and defies my intrusion into his domain.

The owl pecks at something -- food for the young in his nest -- and is gone.

Thanks to Neil

A few more pictures in my photostream on Flickr

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