Last night was clear, warm and perfect for owling. So, Chris and I piled into the 4WD and headed out into the darkeness armed with a spotlight, torch, cameras, 1.5 litres of iced coffee, 2 cans of Pepsi and a couple of chocolate bars....
We found approx 10 Eastern Barn Owls, Stubble Quail, Songlarks, Black-shouldered Kites and Tawny Frogmouth along with a few Brush-tailed Possum, Foxes and rabbits.
So, how do you go owling? Well, we have found that we generally need to park a fair distance away from the bird so it wont flush. We take turns in getting the photos with one of us holding the spotlight and the other quietly approaching the bird.
With my friend holding the spotlight (which is powered from the lighter in the car) I've found that with my old Nikon D200 with such a slow ISO it really is necessary to get as close as possible to the bird in order to get enough light - the camera flash alone is definately not enough light.
If the bird is perched too high up getting close gives the photo a silly angle so we try to photograph birds that we find on lower branches or fence posts.
Last night we also tried experimenting with flight photos. This is very tricky as we don't know when a bird will fly over. The Spotlighter needs to scan the area constantly and get the light onto the bird quickly then follow it. The photographer needs to be very alert and have the camera ready to work in a seconds notice. Generally the Owl will fly over from behind your head and it is silent! I expect will take a lot of practise! This was the best I could manage although I know Chris was far more successful.