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, 4 July 2010

Chick Checking!

Saturday morning found me "owl 'n' about" again, accompanied by my good mate, Nigel Spencer, he had come along for the day to seize upon any photo opportunities that may arise during my rounds. Again, my main itinerary was to check out more little Owls sites to see if there had been any more juveniles emerging from the nests. 

Time is really against me now as most juveniles should have fledged and locating them becomes harder and harder. My tally for this year has already outweighed last year (which is good news in itself) however I feel it could have been much higher if I'd of had the time to get around and monitor all of my local sites, let alone the further afield ones!!!

The day wasn't going too good and we hadn't seen much until that is we arrived at a location near to site 104 at South Wigston. The local farmer had recently cut the hay in a field which now allowed access to a previous "no go area".  I wanted to follow this area up as a previous visit had shown signs of Little Owl activity (pellets). As we drove around the perimeter we neared the suspect area and Nigel spotted an owl sitting out on a limb. I shunted the Landrover back and forth until I was in a position to take a record shot of the bird.

Not sure if this bird was from the nearby site 104, or could it be a new location and site 110? Only time and further investigations will reveal all but for now it will be site 104!

 A record shot of the adult owl at site 104......or maybe site 110?????

I then panned the adjacent trees with my binoculars and BINGO, a juvenile was there too!!! Sadly not the best of images but another juvenile for this years tally. We hung around for a while but no second adult bird or any more juveniles were seen.

More breeding success, juvenile at site 104 (110?).

The other bit of juvenile success from the day was at site 21 at Willoughby Waterleys, a single bird was seen at very close quarters flying away from the nest site, sadly now image was possible.

We also visited Site 68 at Peatling Magna, here I located one of the three (of this years already  recorded) juveniles hiding in the nest tree. 

Site 68, coming out of hiding!

During the day we also visited site 22 at Willoughby Waterleys, I wasn't able to get any images of the 2 juveniles owls that were showing but after I dropped Nigel off I popped back to have another go.

No juveniles showed but my wait was rewarded when one of the adults popped out of the nest entrance.

Another image from site 22 with a "bit of golden glow".

What I did learn from the day is "juvenile spotting" or as it is also know "chick checking" is far more productive in the late evening to dusk period, but all things considered it wasn't too bad a day with two more being recorded taking this years tally to 49!

Double click on any image for a larger more detailed version.


  1. Great read (& pics) as ever.
    How far apart are the 2 closest nests you have ?

    Have a look at this; it'll make you smile for sure:-


  2. Taking it to the extreme here, but . . .

    I find the most productive time for listening out for any juv owls is between 2 & 4 am.

    After the taxis are more or less finished, but before the morning traffic starts.

    ( its also the most productive time for getting a good deep sleep ;-) )

  3. Hi ya Stevie, thanks for your comments. An excellent link to a super image, its got me thinking of what I could manufacture...........!!
    I have two locations where there are breeding little owls within a hundred yards of each other, do you have closer???
    I don't mind putting the hours in Stevie, but between 2am and 4am, thats for owls and ladies of the night!!!!!