Deciding what to pack for a weekend away can be tricky, and many factors come into play. What will the weather be like? Where do you plan on going? All this can mean you rationalise the amount you carry, and a reasonably weighty SLR with lenses may end up staying at home if the plan is for antique shops and cafes.
But as I have again discovered this weekend, you should never leave the camera at home, because wildlife has a habit of finding you.
On Sunday morning we discussed how few of us had seen owls. On Sunday night, this appeared in a tree outside the house:
Not a great photo as it was taken in poor light with a compact, but unmistakably a Tawny Owl.
What’s worse, it wasn’t a fleeting glance. Despite being mobbed by local blackbirds she happily sat there for a good half-hour. In fact, we went before she did, driven in by cold, dark and snow!
It got worse when her mate also appeared and sat on a separate branch a few feet away. He was much harder to see.
These were probably the best views of Tawny Owls I’ve ever had, and they were remarkably calm despite four very excited people paying them a lot of attention. In the circumstances I’m delighted with the photos I got, but there’s a handy reminder that you never know when a good wildlife sighting will present itself.
A few more bad photos of the owls: