Thank you so much for your great feedback! I will try to work more on the owl later on today, in the evening perhaps.
As for MaryThompson
Most of strokes I make are linear here but where the surface needs more soft look and unified look like the beak or especially eyes the strokes are done in small overlapping circles and then carefully blended with colorless blender or Zest-it. Also final light layer on feathers is done this way, just without blending. It is not visible but this last layer makes whole plumage looking more, how to say it... fluffy, not so separated. When you compare owl's right side to the left side just around the eye you will see this difference - right side has been covered with very light layer of dove grey while the right side still needs more layers of separate feathers, more colors, blending and then finally dove grey layer.
Most of the times I call my color pencils works paintings because I take painting approach - blend a lot and rarely leave visible lines. And I use a brush ^_^ (see below).
Light hand application... that depends. When I start, I usually start with marking darkest spots/stripes etc (as for tigers - I start with black stripes). I press the pencil lightly but not too lightly, then just go around these marks with various colors and not really pay attention to what pressure I use. Certain colors need less pressure otherwise they look dull, this would be range of violets from the dark shades, browns of course and terracotta in Derwent's range. Also some greays tend to look awful when used hard. It's a matter of brand you use, color and of course your own experience, you've got to feel your pencils so they work for you.
Zest-it is an alternative to turps and white spirit used in oil painting and for blending pencils or color pencils. Or any wax-based pencils http://www.zest-itartproducts.co.uk/
Smells like orange, dries quick. I use it to blend color pencils after layering several colors, i use it with various brushes depending on what effect I want to achieve. You need to be extra careful while blending any dark colors - if too much of the fluid is used then you get mud, literally. I use it to achieve smooth color transitions, smooth surfaces, achieve effect of a painting rather than line drawing.
Hope that answers your questions ^_^