Friday, 8 January 2010

a mammal tick......

8 January 2009
After a very cold night recorded at - 10 a day with broken sunshine ensued. We couldn't break the dizzy heights of Cuddesdon's near Polar temperatures but it did feel very cold, so waited till 12.30 and then had a couple of hours flexitime and went for a walk. Checked on the garden wildlife first and found the Giraffes in good spirits despite the snow.

Decided to walk through the village to the old barn and see if the Barn Owls were still present.

Looks like one of Santa's little helpers was following me. I was concerned about creeping up on the Barn Owls with the red hat bouncing away but resigned myself to assuming they wouldn't be there anyway, so it wasn't a problem.
Arrived at the barn and walked into the end section where I had seen them before. Sam shouted "they're behind you" and thought I was in a pantomime, I was !, turned round to see two Barn Owls shoot past me. They had emerged from the first bit of the Barn

They flew out over the field, seen here, and towards a tree. I fired off a couple of flight shots as one bird flew reasonably close, but the other disappeared into a hedge. Mindful of my New Years resolution I set about walking to the tree. Admittedly it was a fair way off and I could only see the tree properly through the bins, but I was undaunted. Sam and dog decided to retreat to the warmth so off I set.

Beautifully quiet and crisp snow. I was building confidence that "the picture" could be soon in my grasp. Checked the camera when halfway there, at the point the above picture was taken. ISO down as it was bright, that would give a clearer image, reasonable depth of field and exposure.........,Hmmmmm underexpose for Barn Owls was screaming in my head, but the camera wouldn't get the exposure right due to snow reflection, so bravely I tried a bracket setting with full stop compensation. Surely nothing could stop me now, just another few hundred yards. And then.... a flaming blizzard !

No sign of any Owl, in fact no sign of anything and I was beginning to wonder about the return journey with snow filled ditches. Hey ho all very exciting and disappointing. Returned home via a tantalising Treecreeper and Bullfinch. Neither stayed put. On my return I popped next door to see how Tom (blue coat) was and caught sight of him with a large snowball about to do some damage to an unsuspecting Jasmine. Though it looked as if Cadoc was about to return the compliment. I couldn't look and slunk off.

Back in the study and about to take up work again when just outside the window there was a movement in the snow covered Ivy. It was a small mammal, a mouse ? no surely not, small ears and no bulging eyes, it was a Field Vole, new for Harvestile Farm.

and as for those pesky Barn Owls, well there will be another time. In the meantime here is one of them flying off over the field. If only it had known what the next half hour would have brought it'd probably have died laughing.

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