LookoutTawny Owl posing for a load of photographers

A wonderful day out with some of my camera club buddies saw us shooting (that's taking photos of, not killing) birds of prey.

One of my colleagues at the camera club I attend had been on a photography training day involving birds of prey and thought it would be a great idea to arrange one for our club, minus the training part so that we could focus entirely on getting photos of these magnificent birds. Turns out we were able to handle them as well, as demonstrated by me holding a Harris Hawk below (photo courtesy of Lois Webb):

There was a great response at the club for this and two dates were arranged in the amazing grounds of Newstead Abbey in the wonderfully named Paradise Field. The day I was to attend arrived and the weather was overcast but dry, which was OK by me, I would have preferred a slightly more feature rich sky, but these events are rarely perfect.

Bird after bird came out allowing us to shoot portraits and action shots of Tawny Owls, Barn Owls, Merlins, Kestrels, Harris Hawks, Long Eared Owls, to name but a few. It saw photographers with all sorts of kit lining up to get the "killer" shot.

Much discussion was held over best position relative to the birds, what lenses to use and how to focus,

especially for the action shots, which proved tricky to say the least.

There was time for a lunch break at the Newstead cafe, where we topped up on food and drink and discussed achievements so far. There was a mixture of elation and disappointment when "chimping" through the shots taken with cries of "oh no, it's not in focus", and "Yesssss!". Then it was back to it, with some aerial acrobatics from the beautiful feathered speed demons and some interesting if a bit gross demonstrations of how the birds feed on their prey.

Late afternoon, early evening it was time to wrap up as the rain started to fall and we all headed home to process / delete a load of photos. A follow up session of show and tell at the club revealed some wonderful images. Some of my favourites that I took from the day can be seen in the slideshow below.