209-365 – It Pays to Talk

When I was out recently watching the kingfishers I got chatting to a couple of  fisherman who were getting ready in the car park. They asked what I was photographing and we got talking about the wild life we’d all seen recently. One fisherman told me he’d been cycling on the local moors a few days earlier and had seen a short eared owl hunting! At this my ears pricked up as I’d never seen one before and was interested in trying to track down a location. He told me where he’d seen it and I thanked him before setting off to see if I could spot it.

Now the moors are huge and I was under no illusion that I would see an owl but there would be curlew and golden plover around so I was sure it wouldn’t be a wasted day. I found a parking spot and decided to walk onto the moor, find a comfy spot and just sit and see what happened. The sun was out and the call of curlews filled the air. A pair of roe deer wandered across my view before slowly disappearing among the cotton grass.

Roe deer among the cotton grass

Roe deer among the cotton grass

I had been sat about twenty minutes when the curlew began a strident call which alerted me to the presence of the owl. It appeared in front of me, gliding silently on the hunt for voles or juvenile birds.

Short eared owl

Short eared owl

Within seconds it became aware of my presence, turned and disappeared across the moor. I managed to fire off a few grabbed shots but it’s sudden appearance had given me no time to check or change any settings on my camera.

Disappearing short eared owl.

Disappearing short eared owl.

I was amazed that I’d managed to see it, never mind get a few shots. Across the huge expanse of moorland I’d managed to sit in its chosen hunting ground for that moment in time. A spectacular bird and one which I hope to spend more time photographing, however I’ve returned a few times since and not seen it again.