Little Owl Photo Hide

LITTLE OWL PHOTO HIDE

 

Finally, after a long wait, I had the opportunity to meet and take pictures of the beautiful and enigmatic Little Owl (Athene noctua), one of my favorite European birds, and probably the cutest bird I’ve ever seen.

This little fluffy raptor measures around 21 cm in length with a wingspan of 55 cm (both male and female). Its weigh is about 170 grams. Its plumage color is brown and grey spotted with white. Its big yellow eyes stand out giving the bird a funny frowning expression as you can see in my pictures.

It is a difficult raptor to spot, so it is always better to study their habitat and behavior to understand how they are distributed and what places are their favorite nesting places.

The Little Owl is little but tough. It is a sedentary raptor, mainly nocturnal but they also use to hunt during the day. Their common preys are earthworms and flying insects, such butterflies or dragonflies, but they will always prefer small rodents. I found this Little Owl in a vast moor near to Hoces Del Rio Duratón Natural Park in the middle of nowhere.

The Little Owl is territorial and uses to settle down in one territory for life. However, the boundaries could change, depending on the season. Now is the end of spring, the end of the incubation period, so I knew that it would be hard to spot a female. I managed to find one which was hidden the whole day between the rocks, incubating and taking care of its eggs, while the male was guarding and hunting for its small family.

Their call is a weird shriek, like a cat’s meow, but in a higher pitch. The make a continuous list of shrieks going from lower to higher pitches, which sound like “kiew, kiew”. The Little owl becomes a better “singer” at night as the breeding season approaches in late spring.

 

I had the opportunity to record a short video of the Little owl’s call in the following video:

                                        

I saw the female for a couple of second too. She was thinner than the male, probably because she is most of the time taking care of the eggs. I didn’t have enough time to take a shot of her. The female left the safe nest hidden between rocks attracted by the male’s call. But as soon as she realized that everything was under control, she quickly returned to the hiding place.

 

BEHIND THE CAMERA

 

My friend Juan lives in Cantalejo, a village in the middle of the countryside, near to Segovia city. This area is located just in front of the north face of the mountains of Guadarrama National Park, and it is pretty easy to spot wildlife around there. He runs a birdwatching company called Vultour and manages about 7 bird hides.

The Little owl hide is only opened during the afternoon, so I’ve been shooting other spices in the morning. After lunch, he drove me near to the Little Owl nest, which was hidden between rocks. As soon as we arrived to the place where the photo hide was located, I jumped inside the hide and Juan left me the whole afternoon alone, before picking me up after sunset, so I had enough time to enjoy by myself, observing, shooting pictures and videos, and getting the most out of this shooting session.

At the beginning of the shooting session I was happy for the sun light. As the sky was partly cloudy, the light was moderate and not very strong. However the light colors improved as soon as the sunset started. I probably got one of the most beautiful colors to shoot: creamy orange textures with a beautiful violet-green background behind the scene.

Once again I used for this photo series my lovely Fujifilm XT-1 camera. The distance between the owl and me was about 10 meters, so I had to attach to the camera the XF100-400mm f4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR tele zoom.

Don’t forget to follow my work here: www.josecarpin.com

 

PICTURES

 

Little Owl – Fujifilm XT-1 + XF100-400mm f4-5.6 OIS WR

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Little Owl – Fujifilm XT-1 + XF100-400mm f4-5.6 OIS WR

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Little Owl – Fujifilm XT-1 + XF100-400mm f4-5.6 OIS WR

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Little Owl – Fujifilm XT-1 + XF100-400mm f4-5.6 OIS WR

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