Animals

By David Keane 


A conservation photographer managed to show off his keen eye by snapping the UK’s smallest owl despite it being perfectly camouflaged by acres of Shropshire countryside – but can you spot it?

PIC BY ANDREW FUSEK PETERS / MERCURY PRESS

The ‘little owl’, renowned for being notoriously hard to spot thanks to being so small and facing dwindling numbers – with population plummeting 24 per cent between 1995 and 2008.

However it didn’t stop wildlife photographer Andrew Fusek Peters, who spent SIX hours staking out a secret location in south Shropshire on two separate occasions to spot the bird in the acres and acres of land around him.

His incredible image captures one blending in with the roof of a barn, barely noticeable against the old farm building and the trees behind it.

However showing off that the owl’s eye is even keener than Andrew’s, the 52-year-old managed to capture the moment the bird watched him warily – staring directly back at him despite the distance.

PIC BY ANDREW FUSEK PETERS / MERCURY PRESS.

And the dad-of-two claims that the farmer who allowed him to lie in wait in his field was blown away, having never seen a close up of the shy bird despite them nesting in his barns.

Andrew, from Lydbury North, Shropshire, said: “I was waiting for a long while to find one as they are notoriously hard to spot however the farmer had told me there were owls around there.

“They live up to their name – they are little owls. So they are hard to spot at the best of times, but this one had craftily sat on the top of an old farm building where its colours blended right in.

“It took a couple of visits and a lot of patience but it was well worth it to get the pictures of it. I was over the moon.

PIC BY ANDREW FUSEK PETERS / MERCURY PRESS

“And to get the bird looking right at me was incredible. It shows just how alert they are – he was probably watching me for ages and no doubt knew the moment I spotted him but let me have my picture.”

The little owl is non-native to the UK and was only introduced in the 1800s and are on average just 21-23cm tall.