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!!!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Little Owl Ringing

On Monday night just gone I invited some members of the Charnwood Ringers Group over to south Leicestershire to accompany myself and my mate Daz around some of my local Little Owl sites. From previous investigations I knew of 5 easy accessible sites that had "Pullus" in the nest, apparently this is the proper terminology for juveniles still in the nest, you learn something every day.......or so they say!.

The intention was to ring the Pullus, obviously the ringing can only be done by qualified and licenced individuals, hence the Charwood Ringers were in attendance. Each ring has its own unique identity on it and if ever the owl (with the ring on) was encountered again it would help to provide vital information on the birds age and movements.

Here we can see the gathering at the first location not far from Kilby Bridge, we were at my Little Owl site No 91 and the only occupied breeding box this year that had any success. 

We had a real good start to the evening and a bit of good fortune at this site, when the door to the box was opened there were  three owls inside, two youngsters and the adult hen owl.  All three were taken out and placed carefully inside a cotton retaining bag. These were then hung up inside the Landrover, one by one the owls were taken out of the bags, they were checked over, weighed, measured and finally rung. It was quite surprising how calm and struggle free the birds remained at all times.

All the vital statistics were documented, here you can see the adults birds brood patch. Apparently in the breeding season the hen bird loses her lower breast feathers, her veins are then closer to the skin surface which in turn allows her to regulate the eggs temperature whilst conducting her incubating duties....another thing learnt!!!!

Ringing and measuring the adult bird, yes the pliers look quite terrifying, but rest assured they are a precision piece of equipment and cause absolutely no harm to the birds what so ever. The correct way of handling and holding the bird is clearly demonstrated in these next two images.

 Weighing the bird whilst it remained inside the retaining bag.

Studying the data!

 Juvenile little Owl, post ringing and just before being returned safely to the nest box.

The next location we visited was my record breaking seven egg site at Whetstone, site No 31. Good news and bad news here. The bad news was, only four pullus had survived so far, but the good news is they are all very healthy, fighting fit  and very very cute!!!

By now the evening was getting on and the light drawing in so we made a quick dash over to Gilmorton to check out the third location, site No 107. After some slight difficulties with a very tight entrance hole the 3 juveniles were rung and quickly returned.

It was whilst at site 107 I had my first go at ringing, a little awkward at first but I soon got the hang of it............with some expert instruction of course!!!!

Yours truly with my first rung Little Owl, first of many hopefully!

After all was complete at site 107 we drove only a few hundred yards up the road to site 92, here we successfully rung another 3 juveniles. It was now 9.30pm and there was still one more site to do, we made a final dash over to the Broughton Astley/Cosby village boundary and site 35. Here we rung another 3, by the time we had finished it was completely dark but that didn't deter Daz having his first go at ringing, judging by his smile he enjoyed it too!

After all was complete we all retired to the local pub for a very rewarding couple of pints, it was a really enjoyable and very educating evening with a total of 16 Little Owls being rung.

Many thanks to the four members of the ringing group who gave up their time to come and help me.

Charnwood Ringers - L to R, Nigel Judson, Chris Flint, Andy Smith and Neil Hagley.


  1. Congratulations, Paul - what a result! My god they're cute!! (the pullus, not the ringers!) I hope I see some youngsters at one of my sites in the not-too-distant future, but at the moment it's looking a bit bleak!

  2. What a motley crew!Watch out for the dodgy pair on the right Mr Smith and Hagley ;-]

  3. Great blog Paul and thanks for a brilliant evening. Keep up the good work.

  4. Andy certainly looks like the cat that got the cream! I bet the Charnwood crew were pretty impressed at ringing so many in one evening, I know Andy's been keen to get his hands on some Little Owl for years.

    Well done Paul. I can't believe what you did to my throw away comment!