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, 15 August 2010

Are the Buzzards to blame?

I was "owl n about" again Saturday evening, checking on a few local sites hoping for some more "late show" juveniles. The weather through the day had been really terrible (usless for seeing owls) which lead to the late start.

Again I went over to South Wigston but the pair juveniles that had set up a temporary home in a pile of logs had gone (see previous posting), or at least they weren't showing! Maybe it was the wet conditions they didn't like?

Anyhow, as I was in the area I thought I'd check out site No 77 as no owls had shown here on my last 3 or 4 visits, I was a little concerned for their welfare as a pair of Buzzards have built a nest in an adjacent tree and I feared the worse!!!! 

I staked out the nest tree for about 30 mins when I caught a movement up high in the canopy, upon closer inspection I located one of the adult Little Owls. It allowed me to get quite close, albeit it was never really in full view and never out in the open! I am now wondering if the close proximity of the breeding Buzzards has made them particularly nervous, maybe this is the answer to why there has been no breeding evidence  this year? 

 Little Owl Site 77, a nervous bird!

Although I didn't get any more owl action whilst in the fields at South Wigston there was plenty of activity from some other notable species, Lesser Whitethroat, Wheatear x 2, Stonechat, Green Sandpiper, Snipe and 3 x Kingfishers.

It was by now getting late so it was a quick dash over to Fleckney to check out sites 19 & 28 to see if this years tally of juveniles could be improved upon. No such luck, nothing showing at site 19 and only a single owl at site 28 and that was an adult.

On my return journey I stopped off at site 97 near to Wistow, beings as I know where to look it didn't take me long to locate the juveniles, and good news there are still 3 of them! It was not very conducive for images though as they were staying partially hidden and high up in the nest tree.   

Juveniles No 1 & 2 at site 97, can you see them both? 

I was just about to leave when one of the parent owls came in with a small vole, it landed on one of the outer limbs and started squawking, the temptation of food coaxed the youngsters out, the vole was ripped to bits by the juveniles in about 30 seconds, and yes all the action was missed........ I had just packed the camera away!!!!!!

Juvenile No 2 - post feeding frenzy! 

Juvenile No 3 - post feeding frenzy!  

Oh well I'm sure I'll have better luck next time with the action shots but it was still good to see all 3 juveniles showing and still doing really well.

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