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Pets and People Series: Gwen and Harriet the owl

Pets and People Series: Gwen and Harriet the owl

Portrait Series: Pets & People

Recently I was talking about owls on Twitter (as I do a fair bit) and the lovely @trendyredmac replied saying her friend looks after a barn owl… immediately my mind started thinking this was a perfect photo opportunity… skip forward a few weeks and I’m visiting Gwen and her beautiful barn owl Harriet at Gwen’s tweed clothing company ‘Harriet Hoot‘ (named after her owl).

As we were at Gwen’s work, I decided to try and get some work companion shots of Harriet on Gwen’s shoulder as she was working, but my favourites really ended up being the more posed ones of them together, I think they show their relationship nicely.. whilst still showing the environment and telling a little of that story.

Gwen told me about how she came to look after Harriet:

“I have owned many animals over the years and still have 2 dogs, 2 horses and a cat, however, I always dreamt of owning a bird of prey.  It wasn’t until I went on several experience days that I fell in love with the beautiful barn owl.  

I carefully researched ownership, undertook training in handling and veterinary care and found someone who was willing to act as a mentor.  I ordered my egg with a reputable breeder and got updates when it hatched and when my chick was ready to collect.  At 4 weeks “Squeak” wasn’t standing and alarmingly barn owls are great at lying down and playing dead! “Squeak” grew rapidly and it was amazing to watch the feathers develop under the down.  I couldn’t tell if Squeak was male or female but the size of claws along with the heavy speckling led me to think it was female.  At 51 days old “Harriet Hoot” took her first flight to the glove and at 13 months she laid her first eggs.  

Harriet is now almost 2 years old.  She lives in large aviary in the garden but often comes into the house where she loves to watch me working on my laptop.  I still get an immense thrill to have her fly to me and never cease to be amazed at her outstanding beauty.”

My trip to see Gwen and Harriet has made me want to photograph more people with interesting pets, I have already visited a woman with a 4 foot snake and I’ve got other sessions lined up, too…. please do let me know if you or a friend could be part of this project.

Finally I’d like to say a huge thank you to Gwen and Harriet for letting me into their world for a while, it was great to meet you both.



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