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!!!

Monday, 3 May 2010

The Magnificent Seven

Over the last two days Emily (from the Hawk & Owl Trust) and I have been owl 'n' about checking to see if we could detect any signs of breeding activity at any of my little owl locations including the sites where I have erected the 21 nest boxes.

We found hen birds incubating their clutches of eggs at 8 different locations, six natural sites and can you believe it............also in two of my boxes!!!!!! To have little owls convert to my nest boxes so soon was just fabulous and especially rewarding considering all the hard work that has gone into making and erecting them.

Both the nest box sites have 3 eggs each........so far! The statistics for the natural locations was as follows; 4 different sites with 3 eggs each, 3 sites with 4 eggs each and a mighty 7 eggs at 1 site! We were both amazed at the 7 eggs and Emily said in all the hundreds and hundreds of little owl sites she had previously checked 6 was the maximum she had ever encountered and that was only on two previous occasions.

Emily can be seen here checking out the 7 egg site, and further below is an image from that site of the clutch of eggs, unfortunately not all 7 can be seen!

Emily can be seen in this image up a tree again (I think she must of had training from Tarzan!) checking out one of the natural sites with her "See Snake Camera" (endoscope). It proved to be an invaluable piece of equipment as it allowed us to look deep inside some of the cavities, the breeding activity would never have been confirmed at four of the sites without it!

A clutch of four eggs at one of the natural sites.

Just to point out that Emily is fully trained in gathering little owl data in this particular fashion and at no point did we knowingly cause any undue stress to the birds. We worked swiftly, quietly and at all times the birds welfare was of paramount importance.

Unfortunately we did have a triple whammy of bad fortune during the two days, firstly at one site we saw a stoat coming out of one of the natural nest sites, and yes you have guessed it........no owl or eggs!!!! Secondly, at another natural nest site we found two eggs, oh you would think that to be good news wouldn't you, but no not in this case as they were light brown in colouration with black speckles! Any ideas??? Jackdaws had evicted the little owls and taken over.......dam!!!!!! And thirdly whilst checking out some sites over at Enderby we were inundated with sight seers that caused total grid lock of the local roads!!!!! No it wasn't because they had heard Emily was visiting, they had come to watch the local re-cycling plant being raised to the ground as it went up like an inferno!

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