Friday, 6 June 2014

European Eagle Owl

European Eagle Owl, Bubo bubo

The European Eagle Owl is one of the largest owls in the world. We have three eagle owls here, Ethel who is used for photography days and flying display, and Doina and Igor who are our elderly couple on display.

Igor and Doina were donated to us from an elder couple who used to have them as pets. The couple then got to an age where they felt they could no longer care for them adequately, and wanted to find a safe home for them. Igor and Doina are now well in their 60's, showing how long lived these birds can be.

Ethel, the European Eagle Owl

There is varying reports around about eagle owls in Britain, and whether they were here or not, and are they officially here now or not...

There is some evidence to suggest they used to be in Britain, thousands of years a go, but were then absent until recent decades. We now have quite a few back in the wild, according to many sightings and surveys, making a decision about what to  do with them difficult.

Most likely they are escapees from captivity, and therefore shouldn't really be here. However there is a chance, although unlikely, that they have migrated over from Europe. Now if they have come over naturally, they are fully protected by European law, and quite rightly too... But the question is if they were captive, then shouldn't we really remove them?

Whether they are captive or not, nothing can currently be legally done unless they are proved to have come from captivity... very difficult to do.

Eagle Owl in the Evening

So what is being done?... The RSPB are closely monitoring there population and effects on other wildlife, and in particular where they are bordering where our last few hen harriers are.

Personally, I'd love to see them recognised as being a British bird again. We have very few top predators in this country, due to us persecuting most of them in the past, it would be great to see a few come back... especially if they are as beautiful as a European eagle owl.

Anyway, enough rambling, lets look at some pretty pictures :-) Above is Ethel in the evening light, during the Autumn to get the warm coloured background with the leaves on the trees.


Most of my photos come straight from camera with just a slight tweak in levels of contrast and saturation, if I feel it needs it, and a crop... again if I feel it needs it. Very few I actually "manipulate". In fact, I think I could count on one hand then number of photos that would be seen as having been manipulated, out of the thousands I have taken over the last six years. These two have been though...

Above, very simple, converted to black and white and then colour selectively added in. This was actually done on an iPad app called "Colour Splash". I am not sure if I like selective colour or not, but wanted to give it a go and was done in the first year I had my camera.

I do like black and white, but I am no good at it... One day I would like to try through. For some truly amazing black and white wildlife photography check out David Lloyd! Stunning work, and he has a new coffee shop table book coming out this Autumn.

Vole's Eye View

This one took a lot of work, and was not fully sharp in camera either, but is still one of my favourites of Ethel. I had to remove the telemetry and anklets she was wearing the biggest photoshop job I have ever had to do, but I think unless I tell people I have done it know one knows so I am pretty please with it.

One day I will re do this photo with my new camera.

Me and Ethel - by Izzy Coomber

Lastly, one of me with Ethel taken by Izzy. This was from when I was training her to fly.

Okay, thanks for looking everyone, next up is the snowy owl, and then we will be officially launched with the bluebells from this year, which is what I have been most requested to show.

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