January 2011 – a new year at Willington

The owl fest continued until last weekend [8th] with the Short-eared owl and Barn Owl showing well.

Since then, what with a poorly camera and the weather from cold and bright, to dull and wet, I haven’t had much chance to bag any images of note. The owls seem now to have either dispersed, or with the ground now completely thawed, have reverted to their normal feeding timetables. As this week arrives [w/c 17th] the weather is set to get cold and clear for a few days, so fingers crossed!

Yesterday saw me back at the top platform, after 3 fruitless hours at the “owl spot”, aside from a couple of Jays, a Willow Tit, numerous Crows and BH Gulls, 2 arguing Grey Herons and a family of Pheasants. The sun did come out briefly, just as the DWT working party started work on the far side of the pit.  This was fortuitous, as the ducks took to the skies momentarily, although the Wigeon stayed firmly put in the water.

Teal in flight are always a joy to see, as are Goldeneye – I’ve yet to get really close to a wild one, especially in flight.

Although not rare by any stretch, Wood Pigeon are a delight to watch in flight and are a bird that has evaded my lens, at least for a half-decent picture.

The weekend soon arrives again and the 22nd brought dull skies, although the Barn Owl was out at first light. On the main pit, very little stirred, aside from the normal collection of wildfowl and others – Teal, Tufted, Mallard, 4 Shelduck, 4 Goldeneye, 4 Gadwall, 1 Willow Tit, 1 Little Egret, 14 Cormorant and 4 Grey Herons. A dead male Mute Swan marred the enjoyment somewhat -the rest of the Swan’s family not too far away.

The 23rd again was dull, no Owls today [am anyway], but a beautiful female Sparrowhawk cruised past platform 1.

This entry was posted in 2011, Visits, Willington GP, Year and tagged , , , , , , , , , .


  1. admin March 5, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Hi Doug, apologies for delay to your post. I use a 600mm f4 Canon lens, with a Canon 1D mk3 camera. I think a lot of these Owl pics were taken with my 1.4x tel converter added. I was lucky on one or two occasions, when the owls showed earlier in the afternoon, giving me some golden light to play with. Other shots were at dusk, so ISO 2000 or even 3200 were needed to freeze the flight action. I always mount my lens on a Gitzo tripod, with a Wimberley 2 head. This gives stability and also enables me to pan for these flight shots, or to lock down for the static poses. The 600mm is a bit too heavy for hanholding – maybe 2-3 shots at most before the shakes set in! Don’t be afraid to up the ISO a bit, as it’s better to have a slightly grainy image that’ clear and crisp, rather than a no-noise image that’s blurred. I use Neat Image Pro as a post-process for NR in Photoshop. The main thing, as with most wildlife photography, is time and waiting, with a bit of luck thrown in sometimes.
    Good luck and let me know how you get on.

  2. doug aston January 24, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Absolutely amazing Barn Owl pics. If I could take just one half as good, I’d be very happy. Can you give us details of camera, lens and settings etc?