Little Owl Workshop (Worcs) - Now open for 2017
Dates available: 5th September onwards...
Late in 2015 I was granted access by a local landowner to photograph the wildlife on his farm. There are a number of species on his land but initially I wanted to photograph the little owls that live near the farmhouse.
Since then I have invested a great deal of my time in order to gain the trust of the owls, so they are used to me being around and will land on perches or the barn roof nearby.
As well as getting the owls to perch on objects, such as farm equipment or logs, I have enjoyed success with getting them to swoop down to, run and jump about on the barn roof. As the roof is relatively low, the angle of it allows for shots of the owls as they run about on it from the comfort of a car seat.
The workshops should normally run from May through to October. Early in the season, when the chicks have hatched, the adults are busy collecting food for them, so will come down to the perches frequently. This is a good time to try for flight and running images.
Once the chicks have branched, usually in July, then the adults tend to do less work for them after a while, but of course there should be one or more fluffy owlets also visiting the perches, so will probably demand all the attention!
Late in September or possibly early October, the fledged owlets, now almost identical in terms of appearance to the adults, will leave the nest area to establish their own territories, and this is normally when the workshop season draws to a close.
The farm is in Worcestershire, not far from junction 3 of the M42. Precise directions will be provided after payment is received.
At the moment, there are no hides on site. You will be sat in my car, with your lens resting on a beanbag on the window.
This allows you to move about the site more easily to vary the background, or proximity to perches or the barn roof.
I will be on site with you at all times, to encourage the owls down to the perches and roof, as well as to provide advice on shots where necessary.
There is ample parking on site (close by), and a portaloo toilet. While I will have drinks and snacks with me, it is advisable to bring a packed lunch if required.
There are plenty of corvids on the farm, including carrion crows, jackdaws, jays, magpies and ravens. There are several family groups of buzzards around. During the summer, there is the chance of seeing the local hobbies too. Mistle thrushes, robins, great-spotted and green woodpeckers, blue and great tits also appear occasionally, as does the local sparrowhawk.
The day and site is set up to focus on the little owls, though if anything else drops in, it'll be a bonus.
The cost is £120 per person, per day.
Maximum of 2 people per day.
Full payment is required prior to the day.
The day will normally be from about 9am through to 5pm, though this can vary depending on the time of year.
Shorter sessions are also available - contact me for details.
This is a working farm, and the farmer makes a living from various activities. As the project is near the entrance of the farm, there will be disturbance from visitors to the farm, farmworkers, and the farmer himself.
Fortunately, the owls are fairly used to such issues, and aren't normally bothered by the people.
The farm often has a fire burning which can, if the wind is in the wrong direction, lead to occasional clouds of smoke blowing around the area where the owls are.
Finally, the owls are wild, not tame, so there is always the chance that they might not perform.
Most of my images from the site have been taken with a full frame camera and 500mm prime lens. If you have a cropped sensor camera and a 300 or 400mm lens, you should be fine. As you will be in a mobile hide, I should be able to position you to get the best reach for your gear.
- Photography Gear - camera and lenses
- Spare batteries and memory cards
- Waterproof clothing - the rain can blow into the car at times.
- Packed lunch and drinks
- Patience... The owls aren't as easy to photo when moving or flying as you might imagine.
- Perches - if you have a perch you would like the owls to land upon, bring it along.
I can be reached via email or on my mobile, or if you prefer, via Twitter or my Facebook Page.