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, 21 November 2010

Just So!!!!

This morning I was in accompanied by Mr Colin Green, a well respected local Leicestershire birder who has very kindly offered to help me with my Barn Owl nest box project. Today's task was to have a look around some local terrain and select what we believed to be the "most suitable" to site some boxes.

During our rounds we obviously encountered some of my known Little Owl territories, one of which was site No 77 in South Wigston. Here we located "bright eyes", a well known Little Owl to me who as the name suggests has the biggest, brightest and most intensely yellow eyes I have ever seen in a Little Owl. He was located in his nest tree sitting among the spindly branches, again on his own as his mate has not been seen now for over twelve months!
Alone..........Bright Eyes.

Colin and I were having some good close views when all of a sudden he uplifted and flew to a nearby Willow Tree. We followed in the Landrover and to our surprise when we relocated him he wasn't alone! He had got his partner with him, but it wasn't his old mate who I haven't seen for an age, he had a new woman in tow! I immediately recognise her, she was one of this years chicks from the nearby site No 105, and how do I know? Well if you study the two images below I'm sure you will agree it is far more than a coincidence!!

Site No 77, the new woman, along with a damaged left eye!

June 2010, Chick from nearby site No 105 with damaged left eye!

I know the images are not identical she has obviously moulted out into the adult plumage which is darker and more contrasting but I have no doubt it is the same bird! What do you think?

Anyway after all that distraction time ran away with us but we did managed to survey two very suitable sites where in the not too distant future some Barn Owl boxes will be erected.

After Colin had made his way (he was late for his Sunday lunch!) I made the trip over to Great Easton. Another well know birder from the east of the county, Mr John Turner had invited me to accompany him on a vigil to a village called Great Easton, Short Eared Owls were the quarry. They had returned for the winter and had been showing really well on the previous few days.

We parked up adjacent to the area where they had previously been seen hunting and waited for them to show. Whilst we waited we made best of the time chatting and catching up as we hadn't met for a good few months.

Although bitterly cold the time past really quickly and after a couple of hours the expectant crowd had grown from just the two of us to around twenty hopeful observers. John decided to take matters into his own hands and wandered off down the track to see if they were hunting in the out of sight adjacent field.

John had nearly wondered out of sight when the first Short Eared Owl appeared.....typical! He soon made his way back to the posse who were by now well onto the owls.

It was great to eventually see the owls, three in total plus a bonus Barn Owl but due to their late showing the photography was very difficult indeed as the light had almost gone!.

This was my best capture from a pretty bad bunch.

How could you cap such a wonderful day? Well I will tell you how, by finding another Little Owl site on the way home.........that's how! John had given me the info on a potential site at a village called Cranoe, I followed his precise directions to a tee,  but after around 30 minutes nothing was either seen or heard! I gave up and left, then only a few hundred yards out of the village I spotted a suspect blob sitting on top of a barn......LITTLE OWL!!!!! Fantastic site No 135.

The "Blob"

 I have my suspicions on whether or not this owl is from the site John tried to put me onto, never the less I will have to give him the credit........for now!

Today was a superb day, many thanks must go to Colin & John for making it just so!


  1. What a fantastic day you had! Well done!! Nice SEO image!

  2. Cheers Richard, I'm not happy with it at all, but what can you do when the light has all but gone!