Winter reflections

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I have spent a lot of time this winter in Norfolk photographing Barn Owls. I’ll be the first to admit, its been hard work at times. For the most part the weather hasn’t been kind. And when the sun has shone, a lot of the time has been spent sitting in a hide for hours looking at an empty field.

The hide quickly became a home from home though and provided a wonderful window on the beautiful North Norfolk countryside. It has been fascinating to watch as the season has worn on.

In early January the skies were full of skeins of wintering Pink-footed Geese heading towards neighbouring  sugar beet and stubble fields to feed.

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Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Not wanting to miss out on the formation flying the resident Mute swans also took to the air from time to time. Which at least meant they weren’t getting in the background of Barn Owl images as was their want.

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In fact I got to know a cast of characters of the next few months, including this handsome chap who liked to strut his stuff around the hide, showing who was boss.

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By March, the numbers of Pinkfeet had waned, the vast majority having departed. In their place the skies were filled with the aerial courtship displays of Marsh Harriers. Norfolk has really become a stronghold for these raptors. Difficult to believe that it was only as far back as 1971 numbers in Britain had dwindled to a solitary pair. It was a joy to see them circling and wheeling above the hide, although they rarely approached close enough for photography.

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Over a hundred hours sitting in a hide  though gets tedious, so it was nice to stretch my legs from time to time and head up the road to the coast to make the most of the lovely winter light. My Dad loves waders, so these are for him.

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Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

The Barn Owls themselves I’m going to save for another time. Still very much as I say an ongoing project. As we head in to Spring they are becoming scarce as they start to pair up. The breeding season is almost upon us so it’s time to leave them alone.

Next week I’m off to Finland for a week with my good friend Danny Green on a trip I’ve organised. It may be that I’ll have some owls of the Northern forests to show you on my return. We’ll see.

An entire post about the challenges of photographing barn owls and not one Barn Owl image I hear you say. Oh, go on then. Just the one…

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