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Surrounded by Barn Owls

by Gavin Bickerton-Jones LRPS

 

I am a Motor Sport engineer and wildlife photographer from Attleborough, Norfolk.  I decided to put together my first book, ‘Surrounded by Barn Owls’, a project completed during lockdown three! 

 

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I like to photograph all wildlife, but owls and kingfishers are my favourite subjects and luckily there are a lot of places around Norfolk to see them.

With my motor sport job, I work in a stressful environment at circuits all over the world in the Formula 2 and World Endurance championships.  To combat this, when I am at home, I love nothing more than getting out into a rough field and watching Barn Owls hunt over the land, drifting on the breeze like paper caught in wind.

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It is so peaceful and quiet, a privilege to watch and become absorbed in the natural world as these magnificent creatures hunt for the food that keeps them alive. 

There are a few different spots I go to where I know owl hunt, and if I think the weather is good I will just go and stand at the edge of the fields around Old Buckenham and Attleborough and wait for an owl to start hunting.

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The winter is a good time to spot them as they often hunt in the afternoon until dusk if there have been periods of wet weather.  Barn Owls don't hunt in the rain as their feathers become saturated and they lose their silent flight.

Sometimes you come away with nothing, sometimes a card full of photos as 3 owls were hunting in front of you! 

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After getting decent photos over the last 4 or 5 years, I realised I had a good set of images that show all aspects of Barn Owls behaviour.

With this in mind, I got together around 110 photos that showed off these birds to their best as they go about  their everyday life, and filled in some interesting owl facts along the way.  And so the book was born!

I tell stories of the main sites I have been to over the years, and the owls that have been there and raised young.  I also try to give some advice on the best places to see an owl and the best way to get some images of them. 

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On the technical side, I use Canon 1DX and EOSR to get my photos, with mostly a 500mm F4 and 1.4 extender as a main lens, sometimes a 100-400mm and also a 24-105mm for wider shots.

Good settings to catch sharp flight shots are 1/1250 -1/1600th shutter speed, with an ISO and aperture to get the correct exposure.  Generally aperture is 5.6-6.3, and under expose by around 1 stop as the white feathers on the owl can get burnt out.

I use a tripod sometimes and sometimes handhold.  When the light fades I try some slow shutter speed panning shots at 1/30th speed, which produces some interesting images. 

 

Compositsmall

My book can be ordered by clicking this link to my website: https://www.gbjphotography.co.uk/index.php?page=order-form 

Book price: £18.00 plus £2.55 UK P&P.    

Book Size: 26cm x 22cm, (approx 10.5” x 9”) Hardback.