I’m standing in the garden of Einar, against a stone wall, taking photographs of Swallows. They’re great to practise on because they’re common here and they’re very, very fast. You need quick reactions to photograph them. I need to be able to see them, put a telephoto lens to my eye, and still have them in my view, despite the speed and their movement.
It’s beautiful evening weather, with blue skies, and it’s warm in the reflection of the sun. As I breathe out and relax in the moment, I’m startled to see that there’s a large bird coming straight towards me only a few metres away. It’s flown in low over the fields and I can see massive facial discs and piercing yellow eyes. It’s a Short-Eared Owl. I go through my practised reflex and put the camera up to my eye.
I don’t know who’s more shocked, the Owl or me. It clearly hadn’t seen me against the wall. I get a photograph as it turns:
Those eyes are incredible, aren’t they?
I watch it as it sweeps away on soundless wings.
I’m so excited that I take a photo of the back of my camera and then proceed to tell everyone I know about the experience. I’m sure you can understand. Wouldn’t you?