Autumn Days

Autumn is a special season for the wildlife photographer as nature prepares for the onset of winter. Mammals are busy harvesting nuts and seeds, tits and finches return to garden feeders and thrushes fight over ripe berries in colourful trees.

Autumn brings low, slanting light as the position of the sun in the sky changes. This light is warmer and subtler than the harsh summer sun making it more practical for photo making. There is also more light available to the photographer as leaves fall from deciduous trees.

The fall carpets the ground with a bed of golden leaves as hedgehogs prepare for the big sleep. Little rodents scurry about as they scavenge for scraps of food, still cautious, but shy creatures become bolder and more approachable as winter draws near.

One of my favourite places to visit is York Cemetery which is a real haven for wildlife. As I walk among the gravestones a robin sings a wistful song and is a constant companion; especially when there is a treat on offer! Grey squirrels are more wary than usual but make nice subjects as they forage for nuts in the fallen leaves.

© Simon Roy Photography 2015

Two Little Owls

During the summer of 2014 I started working with a lovely pair of wild Little owls. I was aware the owls were nesting on farmland close to where I live and that they were often seen during daylight hours. I decided to build a rough hide and placed some natural looking perches near to the old oak tree where the birds nest. After a while the owls began to use the perches as a vantage point for hunting and surveying their territory.

By mid summer the adult owls had bred successfully and there were two healthy and very loud owlets around the hide and perches. I started to place food near by hoping that the parents would use the perches to feed the juvenile owls and although this didn’t happen I did get some nice shots of individual birds.

Over the winter I constructed a more substantial hide and by late spring both adult owls were, once again, visiting the area to feed. I decided to use wider perches in the hope that I might get both adults in at the same time; this is harder than it sounds! I spent one or two sessions a week in the hide and made some lovely images of the male bird as he gathered food for the female, who was now busy in the nest.

It wasn’t until mid summer that the female started showing again, at this stage I was sure there were owlets in the nest as both adults collected food and returned to the tree. I continued to change the perches as the barley in the field behind turned from green to a pastel yellow. Then came the chance I had hoped for, as one of the adults joined the other on the old gate post I had set up. Shot through wild flowers with the summer barley beyond, the two owls interacted for just a few magical moments.

The adult owls regularly visited the feeding area through the summer and into autumn but unfortunately the owlets never appeared. One afternoon, in late summer, I noticed two adult Barn owls flying to and from the nest site; being chased off by the adult Little owls. I believe the Barn owls may have predated the owlets!

© Simon Roy Photography 2015