A serving British soldier and amateur photographer, Staff Sergeant Chris Gee, 38, has skillfully captured a series of stunning photos depicting barn owls feeding their chicks with remarkable precision.
Chris dedicated three consecutive nights to meticulously documenting these enchanting moments of the bird of prey in the woodlands of County Durham.
His remarkable attention to detail has produced photographs worthy of acclaim. Chris revealed he has spent three years following all five species of owls native to the UK.
As these captivating photographs reveal, Chris has successfully captured the exact instant when a parent owl arrives, carrying a rodent for its eagerly awaiting chick with an open beak.
Chris, a member of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, described how he was camouflaged approximately 40 meters away from the nest during this recent wildlife mission, armed with a Nikon D500 camera equipped with a Sigma 150-600 Lens and a 1.4x converter.
Despite thorough planning for the operation, Chris expressed his surprise when he discovered that the owls had three chicks.
He said, “I was amazed just watching them. The previous year, I followed a pair of barn owl chicks, so this year, with three, it was an even better feeling, especially when all three chicks popped their heads out.”
While he did not have the exact location of the nest, Chris had a general idea of the area. Upon arrival, he was greeted by the sounds of screeching chicks.
He added, “I thought they would be very young, but to my surprise, they were fledged juveniles. Because I was in camouflage gear, I returned to a safe distance and waited patiently.”
Chris explained that barn owls are classified as a protected ‘schedule 1’ species, requiring special licenses to approach them any closer.
He emphasized that when photographing wildlife, it’s essential to have “patience, be flexible, and prioritize the welfare of the animals.”
In addition to his military career, Chris is deeply passionate about pursuing his hobby of wildlife photography in the wild. He shared, “I am still serving as a Staff Sergeant in the Royal Regiment of Artillery. I have spent 21 years deployed on various tours, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Cyprus. Photography is a hobby of mine due to my job, but I take my camera everywhere. I have tried every form of photography, but wildlife photography is my favourite, not just birds but all UK wildlife.”
According to the Natural History Museum, after a decline in numbers during the 1970s and 80s, there are now approximately 4,000 breeding pairs of barn owls in the UK. These nocturnal hunters were once legendary in British folklore due to their ghostly white appearance and habit of gliding silently through the night, often illuminated by human activity. They were also known as the “demon owl” because of their piercing shrieks and hissing noises when approached near their nests.
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