Over the last couple of weeks I have spent many hours at Worlaby carrs with the odd visit for a few hours to Waters Edge Country Park at Barton-upon-Humber.The aim at Worlaby carr's was to get some decent in flight images of the Short-eared owls before they vacate to their summer breeding grounds. It will most likely be the last owl photographs from the carr's, as it most definitely looks like the carr land is going to be ploughed up this autumn and put back to farm land. Already they, (the land owner or tennant) I'm not sure which have started to cut the grass on the carr's which can only mean disturbance for the owls and the voles they feed on. Worlaby carr's is probably one of the most important and certainly holds one of the largest populations of wintering Short-eared owls in the United Kingdom. Despite the efforts of local birders it now seems certain that this carr land will be returned to agricultural use this autumn.
On the odd day when we have seen any prolonged spells of sunshine I have been to Waters Edge at Barton-upon-Humber to try for in flight shots of the ducks and geese. This winter though there seems to be much less activity on the lakes at Barton than in previous years and photographic opportunities have been very few. Probably due to the windy conditions that seem to have prevailed when the sun has shone. On my last visit I did manage a few shots of Canada geese coming in to land.
Anyway back to Worlaby carr's. It can be a bit soul destroying sitting in the car on the carr's no pun intended for up to six hours at a time waiting for the owls to show, and then going home with no photographs at all because they either didn't show or were too far away for the camera. It could be very cold as well. There were odd days when they showed close enough and I did manage a few decent images. It's sod's law that if the sun managed to shine the owls managed to either keep their distance from the camera or not show at all and there were quite a few days when I went home with no photographs at all. Sometimes they would be out in the morning and sometimes it would be late afternoon when the best of the light had gone. It was always a dilemma knowing what time to visit the carr's. I generally arrived around eleven to eleven thirty in a morning and stayed until the light had gone, between four thirty and five o'clock in the evening.
They never seemed to hunt for any prolonged periods, they would get up and hunt for maybe twenty to thirty minutes and then they would go down again and it would sometimes be another hour or two before they got up again and sometimes not at all.
I was fortunate on one of my visits to have an owl land on one of the fence posts within camera range. This owl had a vole in it's mouth that it had caught and I was over the moon to get a few shots of it before it flew off to consume the vole elsewhere out of sight.
Short-eared owl with vole
On another of my visits I hadn't taken a photograph all the time I had been there, then a kestrel was seen to land on a bush just a little further down the road to where I was parked. I managed to drive down the road very slowly and get a lovely photograph of it. I didn't go home with an empty CF card this time.
One day there were a couple of Stonechat's flitting up and down the road in the bushes and sometimes on the fence posts but they never sat still long enough for me to get any photographs. Anyway to sum up. I am quite happy with the photographs I managed over this last couple of weeks. I would have liked the owls to have been a little closer and to have shown a bit more when the weather conditions were more favourable, but you can't have everything handed on a plate to you. I had to work to get the photographs by putting a lot of time in.