Owl City in the Cotswolds
I've been rather busy of late so this is my first blog in while. This bank holiday weekend I was invited by my friends Paul Joy and Fletch Lewis to visit the Cotswolds area for a day of wildlife photography in a location we have nicknamed "Owl City".
We were fortunate to have glorious sunshine all day and despite a very cold and frosty start by the afternoon it was very warm indeed.
The Cotswolds is an area of outstanding beauty and it has some of the most beautiful countryside in the United Kingdom.
At the crack of dawn I was stood by an old dry stone wall. I love dry stone walls, they really are like a work of art and this one was covered in moss and lichens and the limestone really shone in the early morning light.
Over the wall we looked into a large field. It appeared to have been left to go fairly wild with lots of long grass - ideal for little rodents like field mice and voles.
The field was ideal for Owls to go hunting and soon after our arrival at least three if not four Barn Owls started to make an appearance, silently quartering the field and the surrounding area.
|Barn Owl fly past - the owls just stayed out of optimum reach all day.
We were in for a real treat as the Barn Owls were very active and I just could not believe how long they were hunting for. As the light got better they seemed to get more active. Occasionally one of them would perch on one of the dry stone walls or choose one of the poles in the field. Sometimes the Owls crossed into another field and then would land on a fence post just tantalisingly out of range.
Sometimes the Owl got quite comfortable and started preening and did not seem at all bothered by any onlookers with cameras.
|The Barnies were quite content to perch up for long periods.
There was more than just owls to keep an eye on. Bounding down through the long grass in the field came a Roe Deer buck. It was lit up gorgeously in the orange glow of the rising sun. It stopped, sniffed the air and then jumped the dry stone wall , crossed the country lane and jumped a barbed wire fence into another field. It was later joined by another two Roe Deer before disappearing into a copse of trees.
|Roe Deer in the morning sun
Singing from the tops of Hawthorn Trees in the lane were Yellowhammers. Its great seeing and hearing Yellowhammers. They are rare in my home county but in the Cotswolds they appear to be a lot more common.
|A pair of Yellowhammers
I was on the lookout for Corn Buntings but did not have any luck with them.
Game-birds were popping up everywhere we looked. Almost every field seemed to have Pheasants and we spotted lots of Red-Legged Partridges.
I was really excited to see Brown Hares which were showing very well in lots of fields. I still cant quite get over how much bigger than rabbits they are.
|They can certainly shift
The stars of the day were the Barn Owls. Even after we had a break for lunch a couple of them were still out hunting throughout the day. As they evening neared they seemed to calm down and I think must have gone for a rest as they had been pretty much active all day.
Having taken a look at my pictures at least one of them had a metal ring . I was told that there is thought to be two pairs.
|The heat haze throughout the day was quite a problem and made focussing and getting sharp pictures a real challenge.
|Metal ring on left leg of this Barn Owl.
I saw my first Swallow and butterflies of the year - a Tortoiseshell and a Brimstone. I think the warmth of the spring sun is now starting to bring everything to life. Its about time as March has been so cold and wet.
Quite a few other species of birds put an appearance in besides the owls. My highlight was watching three Red Kites that came in low over our heads.
I really enjoyed my day out and had a really good time with my friends - as usual the banter and good humour get us occupied during the "quieter" birding moments.
I had a bit of a bad start to the day as I forgot all my Nikon P1000 batteries - so no videos from the day out and I also forgot milk for my tea ( thanks to Fletch and Karen for the milk).
Birds Species List
- Barn Owl
- Red Kite
- Red-Legged Partridge
- Herring Gull
- Lesser Black-Backed Gull
- Carrion Crow
- Song Thrush
- Brown Hare
- Roe Deer