Tawny Owl Diary - An Introduction

Tawny Owls have been the be-all and end-all species for me, not necessarily a blue-chip bird, but a bird I have spent countless hours and sleepless nights documenting through imagery; from fledging chicks to hunting adults, they never fail to amaze me. Each owl is unique and every encounter is more thrilling than the last. Photographing them in their habitat, completely wild and free, no bait involved is something I am very proud of and my portfolio of images really shows the beauty of Tawny Owls. Because they are my most photographed subject and I work extensively with them I thought it would be a good idea to create a Tawny Owl Diary - a section on the blog where I will post about my previous and future Tawny Owl encounters with tips and tricks on how to photograph them, how to find them and talk about individual owls I have come to know over the last few years. I am starting the Tawny Owl Diary with an image that is easily one of my favourites and a favourite for many reasons. Tawny Owls are polymorphic species. Meaning that throughout Strix aluco there are visible differences in colour between individual owls and they vary between morphs of brown, grey and rufous. This image shows a prime example of a rufous owl and I plan to talk about the other colour morphs in another Tawny Owl Diary post but I feel like this is what makes them so unique. It is also what helps me recognise them as individuals alongside other characteristics. I have only photographed this owl once and the image you see below is the result of that encounter, however recently I have been seeing him/her in roughly the same place. Unfortunately now it tends to fly off before I can grab a shot, but I am happy I get to see it and more often that not it is sheltered up against the trees making it difficult to spot. What I love most about this image is the pose of the owl, it is perfect… perfect head angle and most of all the talons are on show and they look impressive. It is an OCD of mine to photograph owls and any other animal with their legs / feet / talons on show but more so with owls as its their business end, their weapons, their means-to-an-end and for me it’s what makes this image work so well… Photographing owls at night is a real joy and I hope that this section of the blog helps inspire and motivate people to stop using hides and bait and start using fieldcraft and knowledge to photograph Tawny Owls naturally within their habitat! I hope to write a how-to on photographing Tawnys at night and it’s something I am looking forward to doing.