When it comes to taking photographs, I never thought I’d be interested in taking shots of birds, and I don’t think I ever will be. But for some reason, that disinterest doesn’t apply to owls. There’s something special about owls. Perhaps it’s their human-like features; their large, dish-shaped face; their amazing side-by-side yellow eyes; or the beauty of their flight. I’m not sure what it is. But it seems everyone feels the same way about them: people love owls.
So whether you’re a birder or not, if you like to take photos, then you owe yourself a day with Len Silvester. Located just outside of Barrie, Ontario, Silvester has been taking photos of animals professionally for over 20 years. And he’s been taking shots of owls for the last five.
He runs a snowy owl workshop from January until March, and you’re almost guaranteed to see and get shots of snowy owls during that day.
“In the past four years I have only had two days where the weather was just too nasty to get out there,” says Silvester. “When this happens, I reschedule the day for the client at no cost.”
Less than an hour from his home, Silvester has been tracking the same owls and their siblings as they winter in Southern Ontario.
“Many of the owls have been returning to these same farm fields for 25 to 30 years,” he says.
He has clients coming from throughout North America, and some from as far away as Bulgaria and India. And they come because Silvester can help anyone get shots of these beautiful birds.
“I have had people with all skill levels and camera gear on owl workshops,” he says. “The goal with the workshop is to assist in setting up any camera so you become more successful with any type of moving subject. Birds in flight can be very difficult, even with the most sophisticated gear. It takes plenty of practice and a lot of trashed photos.” Thank the lord for digital!
Silvester is deeply entrenched in the birding scene, and the small community shares information so they can all find owls at any time.
“Occasionally we have located Barred Owls, Great Horned Owls, and if reports of Great Grey Owls are in the area, we may go in search of them,” he says.
While the one-day course may seem pricey at $399.99 including HST, it really isn’t; a day with Silvester and the owls is one you’ll remember for a lifetime. And you’ll have some beautiful images of these majestic “silent ghosts of the north.” Check out his website at ttlphoto.com.
Credit: Len Silvester