I have done Wildlife photography pretty much since I started to do photography a few years back, and I thoroughly enjoy it. My repertoire in Wildlife covers a wide range, including birds, Deer and, on the odd occasion, ducks.
In August 2014, I was asked by a friend of mine if I wanted to go and photograph some Little Owls in a private Hide in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England, UK. I was a bit sceptical at first, mainly because of what time I was expected to be awake and what time we had to get to the hide. So with a 5am start and a 6am arrival time at the hide, it was going to be a long day, especially as we were going to finish at around 7pm in the evening.
I’ve heard and spoken to people who say that going to private hides (also known as Pay as you Go hides, depending on who you speak to) is not proper wildlife photography, because the scene has been set up for you and the Wildlife are baited in order to arrive at the location. However, like with any wildlife photography, you are not guaranteed to see the Owls, no matter how much bait you have given it. The Owls in these locations are not captive in any shape or form. If they chose not to play ball, they won’t. The organisation that provides access to these private hides offer no guarantees that any wildlife will appear for us to view and photograph.
The private hide I visited have a number of perches for the Owls to perch on and have some plates / bowls bolted on the back which is filled with meal worms on a periodic basis. The perches are changed as and when needed and it is up to the Owls to decide whether they want to land on them or not.
Anyway, putting the above aside, I used a number of images in the local club competitions in order to get feedback on how my images could be improved. Little did I know that the below image would take off and do well and that different judges would like it.
One of the clubs I belong to is Ealing and Hampshire House Photographic Society, which meets on a Thursday evening in Ealing Town Hall between 8pm and 10pm. I put the above image in the competition and was selected for external competitions in the North West London Federation (which a number of clubs are a member of). The image has also been used in the Projected Championship 2015 competition. Whilst it got 13 out of 15, it won the Judges award as you can see below.
I also belong to another club called Shillington and District Camera club, but as a distant member, so I mainly participate in Digital competitions. This same image has done well in both the internal and external competition. More details to follow on this shortly.
Below are some of my other favourite images from the same location.
As a result of my success with these owls, I plan on going back to hopefully photograph them before.