A few weeks ago I went on another of Neil Atkinson’s photography courses, this time photographing birds of prey!
I met up with the rest of the group at the Rising Sun Country Park where I discovered that the birds stayed there, I’d thought the birds were being brought to the park just for the course. DLS falconry is based in the Rising Sun and is actually open to the public and is free to enter with donation boxes at the entrance to show your appreciation.
We were introduced to all of the birds by the keeper, learning about their breed, markings and personality before we chose which ones to photograph. Rather than photographing the birds in their pens, they were put into more scenic parts of the park so that the background was nicer and the photograph looked more natural.
The first bird we photographed was Jessica, an Eurasian Eagle Owl which is one of largest species of owl. We perched her on a stone wall and began snapping away before sitting her amongst the grass. With various coloured feathers, furry talons and piercing orange eyes she was stunning and my favourite of all the owls to photograph.
Before putting her back, the keeper held Jessica out on his arm before raising it up so that she thought she was going to fly, spread her wings out and we could get a photo of her fantastic wing span, pretty impressive!
Next up was a Spotted Eagle Owl who we sat on a tree branch. I couldn’t work out if I thought his speckled feathers, tufts ears and bold yellow eyes made him camouflage well into the surroundings or stand out; however, shooting in aperture mode allowed us to focus on the bird and blur the background which certainly made him stand out.
After, we went into the barn to photograph barn owls, NoNo and Marvin. Barn owls mate for life and the sex can be distinguished by looking at their chest feathers, females usually have a spotted chest.
We started off taking photos of both barn owls; however, the camera settings we were using meant that we couldn’t focus on both at the same time so we began to shoot them individually. I was pleased to get a photo of one of the barn owls looking directly into the lens!
We then headed back outdoors to photograph some of the owls in flight which took a bit of practice but the photographs were well worth it in the end! It was great to see how they moved, they looked both powerful and majestic.
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Did you know about DLS Falconry? Will you be going now you do?