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, 18 October 2010


I located another new site tonight but it wasn't without it's problems!

I'd been out checking on a few sites over in the Countesthorpe area when I chanced upon new site No 131. I was driving back towards home along a very narrow muddy farmers track (with the windows open) when I thought I heard a couple of Little Owls calling. Normally I wouldn't have bothered stopping due to how dark it was but because it was a potential new site I was compelled to investigate.

I stopped the car and listened............yep for sure they were little Owls, I couldn't see them though as it was too dark. So, in an attempt to get them to show and come closer I tried to mimic the sound of a mouse (a pathetic sort of squeaky high pitched kissing sound really) and to my amazement it bloody worked!!!

An owl landed right next to me on a public footpath sign, no more than 3 feet away! It just sat there looking at me screeching its head off. There was absolutely no chance of an image as it was far too dark and to add to that I knew as soon as I moved it would be scared off, oh what the hell, what had I got to lose?  I raised the camera and it didn't budge, it just sat there and continued to stare......it was mesmerised by my mouse imitation!  What a great opportunity, this was one of the closest Little Owl encounters I'd ever had but the problem was I just couldn't focus on it, too close and too dark. My only chance was to get some light on to the subject, so I chanced my arm even further  and started the car, it still didn't flinch! I reversed up about 20 feet, turned the engine off and put the headlights on. That was better but still not enough light, on whet the full beam, the fog lights and even the interior lights, it still sat there. There was now just enough light and I was just about to rattle off a few images when it flew off!

I waited 10 minutes and he returned, the mouse squeak did the trick again, the conditions were still very poor, slow shutter speeds of around a second  but  at least some record shots were obtained.

Eventually it departed, I was pleased with what I had seen and the images captured so it was also time for me to go, I turned on the ignition and nothing, oh my god........the car battery was flat, my impression of the Blackpool illuminations had drained all the power.......what a tosser! It was pitch black, getting very cold and I was at least 2 miles from the nearest village! I had but one option, and it wasn't going to be a popular one, to phone up the Mrs and get her to bring the jump leads up to me, she's was not going to be very happy coming out at this time of night!  

She eventually turned up with a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp! Not a lot was said, I think I'm going to be in the dog house for a while, oh well what the hell, it was worth it!


  1. Only a small price to pay for another good find!!! Well done,mate!! I'm begining to think that some of my birds are defecting over to you, as my few birds are disappearing faster than I can find new sites. If you see any intelligent-looking birds, rather than birds with the close-eyed dim look that many of yours have, they may be mine!!! ;-}

  2. you never know, its only 68 sleeps till Santa comes . . .
    he (she) might get you a decent 5,000,000 candle lamp

  3. Richard; Not a chance mate, they are all mine, and I'll have you know that all my owls are good looking, just like their finder!!!!!!!

    Stevie; A very simple but brilliant suggestion...cheers!