Thursday, 19 December 2019

Great Grey Owl madness in Maridalen

I finished my post on Monday by saying that I had been unable to find the GGO that day. Well even though I had been unable to find it the bird was seen by a local around sunset and then on Tuesday was seen at both sunrise and sunset (not that there is much sun involved in these events at the moment) although I was unable to find it in between. I did see it at sunset though and then returned early on Wednesday morning when I was able to follow it for the entire day. I had it hunting from before sunrise and then at 09:45 it retired into the safety of some spruce trees and slept on the same branch until 15:00 when it then came out and hunted again (no wonder I had not been able to find it on Monday or Tuesday during the morning as I didn’t start looking until 10am at which time it would have retired for its nap). I did not witness a successful hunt but I assume it is also hunting through the night. The fact that it is sleeping and not hunting in the day is an indication though that it is finding enough food at night. I still haven’t seen any mice or their tracks in the snow but did hear one today.

I had been intending to keep the location of the owl a secret as they invariably attract a lot of photographers which often causes disturbance to the bird when it is hunting but the location of this bird right by a road means it has not been possible to keep it a secret so I have instead now very publicly announced where the bird is and told everyone to keep to the road and behave themselves! Hopefully this will prove to be the right decision.

I have a lot of images and video of the owl taken on Tuesday afternoon and from all day on Wednesday. Even in the gloom before sunrise and after sunset I was able to take perfectly acceptable photos by bumping the ISO up to 25600. I also had photos taken at lower ISO that looked pitch black but was able to salvage them in PSE. I do not bother taking pictures in RAW because of the size of the files and additional time taken processing them and when you see how much it is possible to recover from a seemingly ruined JPEG file I feel vindicated in my decision.

Great Grey Owl (lappugle) hunting in the morning

asleep during the day

for a very short period in the afternoon the suns rays hit the bird

none of these images have been edited and show how much the colour of photos can change. All the shots were taken in very quick succession 
hunting in the afternoon

I had a few opportunities to take flight shots in the afternoon but had the Beast with me and this was the best I managed. Apparently the bird can be aged as 3cy+ but better pictures are needed to be more specific. It is possible to see that there are two generations of secondary feathers

This picture was taken with ISO 6400, 1/320s, f 6.3. As can be seen, the original JPEG is almost black but I have managed to lighten it up greatly in PSE. I don’t bother with taking in RAW and when you can see how much can be recovered from a JPEG then I feel vindicated

this picture was taken at 15:34 when it really was dark but ISO 25600 does the trick!

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