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, 5 July 2010

In the Gutter

Pheeeewwww, what a Sunday evening I had! Loads of owls seen and heard, in fact too many to recall actually, but here are just a few extracts from a very productive few hours.

Cross Eyed!

I have a Little Owl territory over at Leire, site No 63 and I just haven't visited since last year! I don't know why it has been so long but nevertheless I was there on Sunday. In the breeding season of 2009 I recorded 1 juvenile here but funny enough I have never seen any adult birds......ever!!! (maybe because I don't visit enough?). Anyhow, this is a superb location in an old orchard, I made my way to the far corner and settled down in the shade of an apple tree, this gave me a good vantage point of the whole area and as it was completely saturated in sunshine seeing something shouldn't be too difficult?

I'd been sitting quietly for around 10 minutes when I caught a glimpse of an owl, and would you believe it, an adult!! Although a little distant a did manage an image, it moved around from tree to tree but didn't come any closer. I then pursued it through the orchard and managed a few more images, although all of them were pretty poor! I then heard the distinct hissing of a juvenile, as much as I tried I just couldn't locate it, but what it did prove was there was a breeding pair here and another success for this years records.  

It wasn't until I was reviewing my images that I realised this owl was cross eyed, and it wasn't just a one off, I have reviewed every image I took and in them all the eyes are the same! Here is a heavily cropped section from one of the images, I know its very poor quality but it does show, the "strange eyes"!!!  

New site 110!

Another notable visit was the one to site No 54 at Broughton Astley, sadly nothing at all showing here although the local resident said she had seen the owls recently but no juveniles........as yet!. Not being perturbed I set off on a back lane along the side of the fields that run away from site No 54, three or fields in I came across a disused barn, and low and behold what did I see sitting on the roof? You've guessed it a Little Owl!!

The owl can be seen on the right hand side of the apex.

To get a better, closer look I manoeuvred the landrover to the bottom of the field, still a long way but near enough for me to confirm that what I was looking at was indeed a juvenile! Not only was it new site 110 but a breeding site too!

Same bird, different angle.

In The Gutter!

My planned final location of the night was at Claybrook Magna and site No 11, a pair had been seen here on many occasions but the nesting site had yet to be confirmed. My suspicions where heavily in favour of the old barn, so this is where I parked up and waited. I was keeping a watchful eye on the entrance to the hayloft, after a while this came up trumps as a bird came from nowhere and flew straight in!

Hissing chicks could now be heard, the owl had taken in food for its young. Judging by the racket they were making  it sounded like there was a number of them as well. Two minutes later the adult popped its head out of the hayloft window.

Before flying off in search of more food he checked that the coast was clear, he then looked straight at me, oh no had I been too noisy, he had sussed me out?

Apparently not, he hopped out onto the piece of hose pipe that was protruding from the wall.

From the hose pipe he dropped down onto the wall, how close was he going to come?

It was here he sat for an hour, doing absolutely nothing! Then the sun broke through the cloud cover and offered this chance of a late evening glow image, it was difficult light to get the exposure right........ not sure if this images works or not?

I think the late sun kicked started him back into action as he suddenly flew straight at and over me. Move manoeuvring of the Landrover found him sitting in the gutter of one of the industrial units, here he sat for another 10 minutes.

He was by now moving into another long period of inactivity so it was time to go, I was just pulling away when a second bird showed, it too had been feeding the chicks, the chick numbers are as yet unknown but I will be back soon to hopefully get some confirmation and images.

And finally, and totally unplanned more Little owls. This image is from site No 64 at Leire. It was very late and almost dark, 9.55pm to be exact I was driving by this site and spotted a pair of adult birds sitting in a tree. I had to give it a go as this is my very first owl image from this site.

An excellent and very productive evening, a new site, three more confirmed breeding locations.....I wonder what Monday night will produce???????.................Bring it on!!!!!!!!!!

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