Although morning temperatures remain very low and the trees are still leafless, spring has definitely made a sneaky slow entrance. It just smells different when you go out in the early morning, more earthy if you will. Rain is finally predicted and I expect an explosion of greens by next weekend. Mammals and birds sense it too. For example the pair of Little Owl (Athene noctua; Steenuil) that I have planned to do a project on this spring. The last few sessions in the hide were fruitless, because the owls were still in winter-mode. They spent little time around the nesting box and showed very little interest in one another. That has all changed, as they have become way more active over last week and yesterday they spent the whole sunny morning at and around the nesting box. I even thought I could capture some mating action on camera, but just when the male wanted to mount the bent-over female, she played hard to get and jumped off the roof, leaving the male astounded. I did manage to get the dropping of a pellet on photo.
My favourite of the day however is this image, taken long before sunrise. I like the contrast between the bluish predawn colors and those beautiful yellow eyes that look right through you. Now that the owls seem to have taken residence in the nesting box, and given the positive breeding results of the previous years at this location, I am confident this project will provide me with many fun hours over the next weeks.
Predawn Little Owl; Canon 5D Mark III w. 500/4L IS; 1/10s at F4 and ISO3200; tripod and remote release, tenthide