Floating on the air

Barn owl in a field on the route from Shipston

Barn owl in a field on the route from Shipston

Some of the greatest wildlife thrills are those that come unexpectedly. This afternoon, as I was driving back from Shipston-on-Stour – where I’d had a great day with Will & Anne Neale – I noticed, floating along the hedgerow by the side of the road, an unmistakable owl.

By the time I’d parked and got my camera out, it had flown further off, but remained just within range of binoculars and camera. For a few minutes I was able to watch and photograph it, before it lifted off and sailed over to a field further away.

Barn owl flying along the edge of a field on the route from Shipston

Barn owl flying along the edge of a field on the route from Shipston

Last week I went again to Upton Warren to photograph the courtship rituals of the great crested grebes. As luck would have it, they decided to do so on the far side of a reedbed, so I felt frustrated peering between bullrushes before they drifted out of view. When I downloaded the images, I suddenly realised that the bullrushes, far from being in the way, provided both context and that elusive quality, ‘atmosphere’.

An intimate moment: great crested grebes at Upton Warren

An intimate moment: great crested grebes at Upton Warren (click to enlarge)

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