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Me and the Barn Owl
23rd January 2017

My first ever Blog
"Me and the Barn Owl"
Over the last few months on my wildlife walks around my local area of Ulley in Rotherham, It happened One late afternoon in September 2016 as the light was fading I spotted what I thought was a Barn Owl hunting along the hedgerow I watched it mesmerised by its sheer beauty this was the first Barn Owl I had seen in my my local area since I was in my teens I am now 56 so you could say I was slightly excited, Wondering if it was just a one off I decided to do the same walk over the next few days sometimes it showed daily and then didnt show for days on end which worried me thinking something had happened but then it would turn up again and I would breath a sigh of relief, I was getting attached to this wild Barn Owl that I had now named Barny after lots and lots of patience and legwork I then worked out which fields it favoured when hunting and roughly what time it would appear and two months from my first sighting decided to set up a portable hide in one of the adjacent hedgerows to the field and took along my camera sure enough it appeared at 3pm and the sun was still out so i took a couple of photos.



I was amazed how close it would come to the hide oblivious to me inside holding my breath as it flew passed so not to make a noise not even a sound could be heard as it silenty flew past on the lookout for small mamals scurrying around in the grasses below.



Over the next month or so it would appear regular as clockwork at between 2:50-3pm and hunt for at least an hour and it was at this time I found out it favoured certain posts around the field of which it surveyed its area, One afternoon when it had perched up on a post I noticed speckles on its chest and guess what Barny was a female oh well all this time I had been calling her Barny time for a name change and the first name that came to mind was Hazel and that seemed to suit her perfectly.



After monitoring her for over 3 months I roughly worked out which building she was roosting in near a local farm. I have witnessed her hunting in all weathers good and bad and I noticed that when she caught her prey she would normally eat it on the ground where she caught it but on the odd occasion she did take it to a post she did not carry prey in her claws but in her mouth as you can see in this image



The reason for this became apparent when I photographed her leaving the ground I had been noticing when perched up she never put her left foot down and as you can see in this picture she seems to have an old injury either broken or deformed left leg well that is my opinion and im no expert.



During days when we had constant rain she would appear on the odd day and just hunt from the posts rather than fly around the field, Their specially adapted feathers are not particularly waterproof and they are unable to store a lot of body fat. This means they are unable to hunt in heavy rain and are particularly prone to starvation during prolonged periods of severe weather which worried me greatly but after witnessing her hunting and feeding in heavy rain realised she was a battler as you can see in this picture she was still hunting in heavy rain



Over December her visits were few and far between and I was concerened on more than one occasion wondering if she had survived with all the severe weather we have had, my visits were daily and on Boxing day we had a blue skies so I ventured down with my hide and camera and set up hoping she would show 3pm no sign then just as i was ready to call it a day she appeared and hunted right in front of me I am sure she knew I was there but that didnt stop her i wintnessed her catch at least 8 so that day she fed very well which made my day



Throughout January 2017 I have been down every day and waited and watched she doesnt always appear but shows at least 4 times a week always feeding very well I dont always take my camera just to watch this magnificent Owl is enough for me, You cant put a price on memories.
Over the last two weeks there have been orgainsed shoots around the fields where she roots with the local farmers running there organised shoots of which I am totally against this worried me because she did not show for three days and I feared the worst things go through your mind I wondered if they had accidently shot her mistaken her for something else it was at this point I realised just how attached I had become to this little wild Barn Owl I had named Hazel, Then on the 21st Jan after 3 days of no show there she was sat in a tree I am sure she was waiting for me because I didnt have my hide just my camera and I just leaned against the fence and she flew down and just started to hunt right in front of me the emotion and joy I felt was overwelming



I will continue my blog and updates over the coming months and I am hoping she finds a mate because I am certain this lovely lady would make the perfect mother.
Gez
National Geo Traveller UK 2013 Wildlife winner
10th May 2013
My portrait of a Swan won the National Geo Traveller UK Wildlife catergory photo competition 2013. To capture this unusual image which was taken at Kingsmill reservouir in Nottinghamshire I had to sit with the swans for about 30 minutes to gain their trust which at times was very unerving for me but the reward when getting the shot was well worth it.
BWPA 2012 Highly commended
04th October 2012
Another image that was highly commended in the BWPA wildlife photographer of the year competition this image was featured in their book