torstai 3. heinäkuuta 2014

Wet afternoon of the Hawk owl family

I was photo shooting Hawk owl last May in Kuusamo. At that time the owl was brooding and not much happened during the long photographing day. That´s when I decided to come back when the chicks have hatched and feeding is going on with full speed!  But the time elapsed and the departure to Kuusamo delayed and delayed. Eventually in the late June we were packing with my wife Kati to drive to our cottage at Lake Inari. We planned the route up north via Kuusamo and The Nest. The big question and uncertainty was if the chicks still would be in the nest. I would get the answer in a couple of hours.
We departed from Kirkkonummi really early in the morning to catch Kuusamo in the afternoon. The driving was quite easy despite the rainy and windy weather. The plan was to leave Kati with our dogs to the hotel and drive alone to the nest. However the weather was so bad that I suggested Kati that if she drove me to the nest and picked me up in the evening she`d have the car to explore the Kuusamo area. Kati accepted my proposal when I swore that it would not be far a way, so I remembered. She was not particularly happy when it came clear that the site was forty kilometres a way and she had to drive the narrow gravel road four times. Finally it went quite okay and Kati had the car to ease her day and keep her feet dry.
I arrived to the nest about 3 pm and the owls were still there, female with four chicks!!  I waited patiently until the female left the nest and then quickly sneaked in to the tent hide some twenty meters from the owls. I didn´t need to wait for long when the female returned to cover her young ones from the rain. The rain was really heavy for time to time and the female stayed there for long periods to keep her chicks dry. The feeding intervals stretched remarkably long but once again just watching them was enjoyable and interesting.


 Once in a while the chicks wiggled so much that their mother had to do almost acrobatic moves to be able to hang in there. And next the young ones got anxious and they started to flap their wings wildly even though they could not generate the upthrust to fly.


Sometimes when the female was standing on the edge of the nest she called the male who answered. It looked like they had a conversation with important issues. Males do not feed chicks although they catch food for them, but the females delivere it.

When it rained a little bit weaker the feeding accelerated significantly. During the weaker rain periods hunting was active and they carried moles all the time to the chicks. There were four greedy mouths wide open to feed.


During this late afternoon and evening the weather was really bad. It rained nearly continuously when I was there but happily there were short periods with almost no rain. Day temperature was four degrees centigrade and wind was really cold. Quite soon after I arrived the hide I realised that my summer outfit would not be enough and I was freezing the whole evening. While sitting I did a lot of exercises with my every single muscle to keep me warm. I managed to do so until 9 pm, then the female left the nest for a while and so did I. But before that I photographed the male sitting in the rain in a distant tree.

I walked half a kilometer through a little forrest and a field growing tall grass and I was totally soaked. On my way I called Kati to come and pick me up.  After 45 minutes of waiting, when I saw her arriving with the warm car I was so happy. Kisses to Kati with love!


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