The Barn Owl trusts 2014 population report has just been published and it was a much better year for one of my favorite birds, the Barn Owl. After the disastrous previous year in 2013 one of the worst on record for Barn Owls 2014 was much better. In most county’s of the UK the breeding populations where up and all reported successfully rearing young which is wonderful news.
I donate my images to this trust because simply I love Barn Owls and have done all of my life. Proud to say the trust has used my image on the front page of the report which is lovely to see. Making a difference and helping those subjects you love is something my photography enables me to do of which it gives me great satisfaction. We can all do something to help wildlife I feel and I have done since the moment I turned professional.
To see the full report click on the following link. This month also see’s my article on these amazing birds in the wonderful Wild Planet photographic magazine. click here to see this. I hope the population carries on growing and good luck to everyone that helps these wonderful birds.
In the February’s issue of the highly acclaimed photographic magazine ; Wild Planet I have my third article published to date, talking about my life-long love of Barn Owls and the struggles they face with the changeable weather conditions here in the UK.
My first memories of Barn Owls are from childhood, where I’d rush home from school, dump all my school bags, pick up my little rucksack, bird guide and binoculars and head on my push bike to a nearby stretch of farmland not far from my home in the hope I’d see a pair of Barn Owls Id spent many years watching. I did my first ever project on Barn Owls for the the Young Ornithologists Club (YOC) which is now the Wildlife s Explorers Club. Recording trips in and out of the nest with what prey, collecting pellets, drawings and all sorts it was amazing.
Quartering over farmland, hovering with moth like silence, flying effortlessly on the wing in the half-light at dawn or dusk is the supreme hunter, the Barn Owl. A bird that has always created a sense of great excitement and fascination for me. In British folklore, a screeching Barn Owl is believed to predict that a storm or cold weather was imminent. During a storm, if a Barn Owl was heard, it indicated that the storm was nearly over.
You wait and wait for a passing glimpse and a view into this bird’s life entrenched with mystery, then from nowhere and without warning one turns up in perfect silence, gliding, riding the currents of air, traveling effortlessly. Eyes glued to the ground beneath, on the lookout for small rodents that they feed on, as you witness their very distinctive appearance with a white heart-shaped face with no ear tufts and sharp black eyes all contributing to its striking appearance.
Those large black eyes only let the Barn Owl look forward in a fixed position and cannot move to the side, so consequently the Barn Owl has to turn its head to see to the side or back. Their hearing is amazing and the ability to locate prey by sound alone is one of the best in the animal kingdom.
Barn Owl’s feathers make them perfectly adapted for silent flight, but this makes them prone to water logging so they are not well suited to hunting in wet weather. The key to an owl’s silent flight is in its feathers, the next time you find an owl feather, turn it on its side and look at the edge — the line of fibers is scalloped, like a stretched seam. The slight alteration in shape allows the feather to cut the air without making sound, making them perfectly aerodynamic.
For more of my article, how I work with wild Barn Owls and alot more information then please click on the following link. Also there is a link to Barn Owl Trust, based in Devon who have brought out a conservation handbook on Barn Owls, its a comprehensive guide for ecologists, surveyors, land managers and ornithologists.
Some of my images of Barn Owls were used in this handbook and I also help the trust with my images to help to raise awareness of these owls and the issues that face them.
I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did writing this. Over the last couple of weeks I have been out and found a brand new Barn Owl sight in an amazing and old setting that Im looking forward to working on this year as one of my major projects. Also the family of Barn Owls I photographed a couple of years back have also returned so it looks very promising this year with regard to Barn Owls fingers crossed.
Barn Owls are protected by law and so shouldn’t be disturbed so please be careful if or when you come across one. They have suffered in recent years due to extreme weather so they need all the help they can to build back up. The information and protected status of this owl can be read further on this link.
I hope this winter will be kinder to them and I look forward to showing you my new images of Barn Owls in the coming months, many thanks.
In August’s issue of the Wild Planet magazine I have an article covering fieldcraft, something I have always applied and feel is one of, if not the most important tool in your box as a wildlife photographer. From my start right up until the present day fieldcraft has and will always be so very important to me. When working with wild animals not use to humans the wildlife photographer must use his own skills and Technics in order to get close to a chosen subject, which in turn make for more informative images and a better understanding of their lives I believe.
As Wildlife photographers we have a duty of care not only to the subject but also to the public and those that view our images to show them as seen on the ground. To explain and tell what went into that image, how it was taken and then and only then can they judge your skill as a wildlife photographer. Transporting them to that moment in time that the photographer was lucky enough to see and witness and later record with his camera.
The photographer must use his own skills, experience and subject knowledge to achieve this and for me this starts with fieldcraft. In an age where the skill base for this is dying I feel with the ever ready images and all you have to do is turn up kind of images out there taking over. I truly feel as Wildlife photographer we have to take it right back to the beginning, work alongside wildlife, capture what you saw using you own skills. In a time where wildlife is really under pressure the best thing we can do is learn about those subjects, watch those subjects and become part of their lives without impacting on them.
I’m feel so strongly about fieldcraft and ethics and since turning pro I have always worked in this way and my images for me represent that special moment in time I was prevailed to witness and later record with my camera.We really do have a duty of care and by working in a manner like this the rewards are far greatly than just an image, educating many through those images and yourself at the sametime.
We never stop learning about the natural world but in a time where its under the most pressure as in now I feel will can all play a part and as a wildlife photographer this starts with real moments from the wild captured by you, with your camera using simple fieldcraft and becoming aware of your environment, your subject and the habitat they live in.
To read my fieldcraft article click here and download the August issue where I go through everything I use and apply while among the countryside. I hope it helps you and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email me here. Its the second time now I have had an article in this prestigious magazine dedicated to wildlife photography. The first being my moving story about saving the Sumatran Orangutans that can be see by clicking here.
Thank you to the staff at the magazine for publishing this second article and I hope it helps your readers to understand wildlife photography is not something you can turn up, pay your money, take the shot and go home, its about learning and minimizing your impact on the wildlife and the countryside. A better understanding of what your watching and photographing starts and ends with fieldcraft for me, and something I show and teach on my One to Ones and workshops, good luck.