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Owl Heaven

I’ve been after some decent short eared owl shots all Winter but so far have only managed long distance sightings and pictures. However recently I’ve been watching one on the moors above where I live and you can almost set your watch at the time it hunts a particular field. The field is some distance away from the road so I sit there willing the owl to venture closer toward me. Last night I watched it quartering the moor on the lookout for its evening meal and on a few occasions it plunged headfirst into the long grass, always emerging with empty talons.

Gradually it began to get closer and I could see its stunning orange yellow eyes as I looked through my viewfinder. I had the shutter almost continually pressed and with my fingers crossed hoped that some of them would be OK.

It’s always difficult looking at the back of the camera to see if you’ve got the shot and it always seems to take a lot longer getting home so you can review them properly.

The owl barely seemed to notice me as it intently hunted the voles and mice which make up its diet. They are about the size of a barn owl but their wingspan is much greater at around 1 metre. These owls are unusual in that they prefer to hunt in the daytime silently dissecting the moorland for a sight or sound of their prey.

They are resident breeding birds in the North of England but during Winter are joined by birds from Scandinavia, Iceland and Russia heading South to avoid harsher winters.

The Short-eared Owl is mottled yellowy-brown but paler underneath and has dark circles around its stunning yellow eyes. It gets its name from its short ear tufts which to be honest I’ve not really noticed.

This visit closer to the road and my “hide” (car) lasted about five minutes before the owl moved further and further down the fields until eventually disappearing. An absolute pleasure to see this bird and to finally get some pictures I'm happier with!

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