Sunday, 27 June 2010

Evening Treats

Young Badger, followed by an adult

Pics following the Badgers: Dog Fox (scent-marking), then after hearing the camera noise, and checking again as it retreated, Tawny Owl [adult & then chick], a 'scowling' Little Owl, and finally a Chimney Sweeper.

I met up with Robert Fuller on Friday evening to have a dry run Owl Safari, and a discussion of the various events I'm running from his gallery. [For more info on Robert's events, please follow the links from the picture (currently a Kingfisher sat on a camera) on the right of this post, in the My Blog List section. Apparently, the Owl Safaris are all sold out, but there are spaces on some of the other events].
I arrived at 6.30 to witness Robert putting the finish touches to his hide, from which he was hoping to photograph Little Owls coming down to feed their chicks. Almost immediately a Little Owl flew across some pasture & disappeared into some trees. We had a walk near his farm and found at least 4 Tawny Owls in the trees, and a female Redstart with her bill stuffed with insects, and a Brown Rat ran across the road. Robert drove to a great vantage point overlooking a box full of Barn Owl chicks. On the way we heard a Tree Pipit, at an area where he threw down plenty of peanuts, and at the viewing area itself we saw displaying Curlews. Robert returned to his hide to wait for the Little Owls, while I waited for the hunting Barn Owls.
The Curlews sang as they flew through the valley again, Meadow Pipits displayed, and Goldfinches and Linnets fed nearby. An hour later and the Barn Owls had yet to appear, but this could be because the chicks were very well fed, and the long number of dry nights we've enjoyed recently mean that hunting has been very easy during the last few weeks. I climbed the hill opposite the box, and was able to see a Barn Owl chick in the entrance hole. There were plenty of Chimney Sweeper moths among the long grass as I scaled the slope. I then stalked quietly along the top of the escarpment and began to hear the call of a dog fox, and sure enough one came out from under a fence towards me & proceeded to scent mark unaware I was watching. I snatched a couple of pictures, but the fox heard the camera & stared at me for a moment or two. It didn't seem to consider biting me, but I wasn't upstairs lying in a bed, so it retreated the way it came!
I carried on and saw several Hares and plenty of Rabbits, and waited at the top of a mound on the escarpment. My scent was being blown over the escarpment behind me. At 8.45 precisely I spotted some movement below in the area where Robert had scattered the peanuts - 2 Badgers had come out into the open. It was overcast, so I had the camera on a very quick setting & tried to take some pictures. However, they were quite distant, so over the course of half-an-hour I crept closer & closer to the Badgers, which had been joined by a much smaller individual. Eventually, I must have crept within 50 feet of them, before they became aware of my presence. It was a magical experience, especially as the only previous view of a living Badger had been very distant. I walked back to my parked car, and as Robert was still waiting for the Little Owls, I drove the 35 miles back home. It was a late night for me, but well worth the experience, and everything bodes well for the Owl Safaris to be held during the next couple of weeks.


Mike Randall Bird Photography said...

If the owl safari's are as sucessful the punters will be in for a treat. Good luck with this.
PS. great pics.

Michael Flowers said...

Thanks Mike,