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"Intensity" - Hunting Short-eared Owl

Photo Information
Copyright: Nigel Deacon (Merlin) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 445 W: 267 N: 455] (1713)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2012-03-01
Categories: Birds
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/1250 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Animals' Behavior, part one [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2013-08-25 10:34
Viewed: 2895
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 38
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I have written about this species previously, but I never get tired of spending time with these beautiful and approachable birds. I find the 800px limit on TN to be a pain when trying to portray wildlife in its environment (I much prefer to frame images to show environmental context rather than what Moose Peterson calls "eyeball shots"), but with such a small frame to work in we all tend to crop very tightly. In this image I have tried to retain some impression of this species' preferred habitat of rough grassland by the selection of the cropping frame. I hope it works for you ;-)

The winter of 2011-12 will probably always be remembered by me as "owl winter" because of the exceptionally large numbers of short-eared owls that arrived in the UK. Up to 8 birds could be seen at once at a local site, with no barriers between the birds and their observers. The owls were completely at ease with people nearby - in fact, they were often curious and would fly toward a person and study him/her with those great yellow eyes from just a few metres, which is a spine-tingling experience. The image was shot in the low evening sunlight, with the camera hand-held - which is quite a struggle with this lens after a few minutes!

The Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus is unusual in that it often hunts by day, particularly in poor light or in the late afternoon, which gives us a rare opportunity to observe owl behaviour. They hunt over open grassland, quartering the ground in slow, steady flight just a metre or two from the ground, before abruptly slamming down onto some unsuspecting rodent. The Short-eared and Barn owls hunting in this area lost many of their kills to an aggressive kleptomaniac (okay, the correct work is "kleptoparasitic," but this bird was definitely a bit crazy) male kestrel that would pursue them relentlessly before snatching the kill from the owls' feet.

Alex99, Hotelcalifornia, ramthakur, marius-secan, periko has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Ingrid1: Many thanks!Merlin 5 08-26 08:04
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Critiques [Translate]

Dear Nigel,
A stunning photo of this floating owl, and I add it to my theme "Animals' Behaviour".

The eager expression of the animal , the sharp details, the natural colours are a pleasure to view. The foreground depicting the habitat add interest to your image.
Thanks for sharing, and I add the photo to my favorites.
Warm greetings from the Tzaneen Dam in Limpopo, South Africa

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2013-08-25 11:03]

Hi Nigel.
I think the owl hunts not for photographer. Astounding eye-contact and POV. Wingspread is also great as well as freezing of the scene. TFS and best wishes.

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2013-08-25 11:56]

Hello Nigel,
Impressive photo with this frontal POV. Impressive are the big wings and clear eyes too. Beautiful natural colours and excellent sharpness.

Hello Nigel,
Excellent work.Like it very much.To capture a flying bird keeping its all details, is the toughest job to a photographer.Stationary subject is easier than this.Nice to see it.
Thanks for sharing,
Kind regards,

amazing flight capture, the frame is needless though, TFS Ori

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2013-08-25 12:23]

Hello Nigel.
Well done picture!The DOF is perfect, the sharpness and colours are nice.A great image! TFS.
Regards Siggi

Impressive in flight photo Nigel! Perfect timing, excellent composition and framing, wonderful colours and good sharpness.

excellent image of flying bird. excellent angle and timing. tfs.

Dear Nigel,
Amazing inflight catch with great details and an impressive posture.
Thanks and best regards,

Hi Nigel,
I feel so excited to see this Short-eared Owl in your pic. I've never seen owls in the wild, let alone this species, not in the least, an owl flying! Superb sharpness,esp. the eyes, great details and excellent colours, and fantastic composition. Very well done!

Thanks for your critique on my butterfly picture, Nigel.
I like your note as much as I like your picture of an Owl in flight. The note is first hand and makes an interesting read. I endorse your views on the picture size limitations here on TN.
As you mentioned in your note, the Owl is looking you straight in the eye and you have captured its facial expression exceptionally well. With your well chosen camera settings, you have frozen the bird in mid flight with your bulky lens hand-held. Bravo!
Warm regards.

Ciao Nigel, great capture of lovely in-flight owl, wonderful colors, fine details and splendid sharpness, very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio

Hello Nigel,
I missed some of your photos...This one and the previous one are really superb.

  • Great 
  • iti Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 577 W: 0 N: 650] (7939)
  • [2013-08-26 9:53]

Hi Nigel,
Excellent moment captured. Perfect detail and focus.
Amazing natural colors.
Regards Jiri.

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2013-08-26 19:38]

Hello Nigel,
I would be thrilled to death to get even the opportunity to photograph an owl in the wild like this, but I rarely see any here in Ohio. I did managed to get a shot of one sitting in a tree in Oklahoma this summer, but that was definitely a rarity for me.
You managed to capture this gorgeous bird inflight and in super sharp focus. For this I say congratulations!!

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2013-08-27 5:38]

Hi Nigel,absolutely fantastic whit in flight face to face whit this beautiful owl,great timing and 3D effect,i hope to made a pic like this one day...but the birds don't love me...ehee...have a nice day and thanks,Luciano

  • Great 
  • Cobo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 236 W: 1 N: 535] (5799)
  • [2013-08-30 0:34]

Great picture of this bird flying! Excellent sharpness and deep of field. Congratulation.

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2014-01-24 0:45]

Hello Nigel
very lively frontal in flight capture. This well frozen shot is splendid. You composed it so lively at the corner.
Wonderful view.


  • Great 
  • periko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 70 W: 2 N: 145] (1487)
  • [2015-07-16 22:14]

Hi Nigel
You caught an impressive moment in the flight of this owl.
Sharp details on its face, amazing gaze.


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