Hi and welcome to my Blog, my name is Paul Riddle and I live in south Leicestershire, UK. Back in August 2007 my quest began to locate as many local Little Owl territories as possible. The driving force was a reported decline in the uk numbers so I thought I would do my bit and conduct a study in my area. After 7 years and countless hours out in the field I have detected over 200 different sites. With a thirst for a greater understanding of the owls a more comprehensive monitoring and nest box programme then commenced. This also now includes monitoring the local and very sparse population of Barn Owls, please pop back occasionally and catch up with the life and times of my owls and any other wildlife that I come across. I hope you enjoy your visit!!!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Gotta Lens!

After a few weeks of frustration in having not had my "long lens" and consequently no owl images my good mate John from Countesthorpe lent me his, a Canon 600mm prime with all the associated goodies. Now this is a serious piece of kit, worth in the region of £8,000.00..........yes you read it right, EIGHT GRAND!!!!!!!! It oozes quality and god dam is it heavy, a couple of pit ponies wouldn't go amiss with the helping to carry it! Oh my god, what if I bust it, what if I drop it, what if an owl craps on it!!!!! If any of the aforementioned ever occurred I'd have to go and see my bank manager to get me out of a predicament that would give me pain in the wallet for years to come!

For that reason the lens has remained securely in its case and in my house for the last 3 days. I have been weighing up all the pros and con's on weather to take it out into the field or not. Anyway, yesterday (Saturday) I was out with the renowned wildlife photographer Andy Rouse (a really nice and very knowledgeable bloke), we spent all morning and part of the afternoon checking out some of my owl sites with a view to selecting a few for a couple of weeks time when we are going to put in some serious hours .

After Andy left I realised my appetite for some owl photography had really been whetted so I loaded up the Canon lens and headed off to my "7 egg site". Upon arrival at the site I bumped into "Skev" (his blog can be accessed on the column on the left), he had been out bush shaking (or some thing like that?) and he had a nice collection of caterpillars and larva in little plastic tubes. We chewed the fat for 20 minutes or so before he went on his way, I then set up my portable hide and out with the lens. Oh I forgot to mention that a few days ago I purchased a new camera body (Canon 40D) from my good mate Nigel Spencer (his blog is also accessible on the column on the left) . Now this was my first run out with the new body and boy o boy was I going to get some great images especially as I had the Canon lens attached to it!

I sat quietly in anticipation waiting for the owls to show, I waited and waited and waited.............Nothing!!!! What a bloody anti-climax, here I was, all the gear (but not much idea) waiting for the final piece of the jigsaw to fall into place..........so where were the bloody owls?????

After what seemed an age and no show owls I decided to call it a day and pack up. I'd just taken the lens off the tripod (with the help of a block and tackle!) and sods law kicked in......there was the little blighter right in front of me at the nest entrance! No time to mess around with tripods and the like, I quickly lifted the lens, biceps bulging and rattled off a few images. 

He then flew up into the tree giving me "the stare"

Not the best images I've ever taken but considering they were taken hand held I am very pleased. I'm sure it won't be too long before I'm owl n about again with the new kit...............can't wait!!!!!

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