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, 28 November 2010

Snowy Owl

On Saturday morning Leicestershire was covered with an inch or so of overnight snow and the sun was shining, I'd been waiting for conditions like this for ages. It was now time to put my plan into action, Little Owl images in the snow, something I'd never previously managed and the excellent light levels should make for some great stuff.

I visited all the usual suspect sites where owls could be watched and photographed without the need to get out of the car, yep it was going to be a lazy day and I wanted to stay in the relative warmth! However things weren't going quite to plan, it was the same story at every site.....no owls!!! 

After exhausting all the known "easy" sites I'd resigned myself to the fact that in order to get the images I wanted I'd got to get my fat ass out of the Landrover and walk! This was bad on two counts, firstly it was bitter cold and the biting wind obviously made it feel even worse and  secondly, to get near to owls on foot for close up images is terribly difficult. 

It was only a short walk at site No 1 and it paid off when an owl was finally located, tight up to the main trunk sheltering owl of the wind. Considering it was a hand held shot the final results weren't too bad, very autumnal but no snow!  




The next site where an owl was located was site No 77, normally I can drive my landrover over the fields and up to the nest tree here but due to the fact the farmer had moved some cattle in I'd got to brave the elements and walk. I was rewarded for my efforts when the second owl of the morning was located, again some handheld shots but at least this time there was snow in the image, albeit a small amount! 




I pushed for a better image and got closer, the owl seemed reluctant to fly and just moved behind the snow covered main tree trunk, not really the snowy image I was after but the best I could managed before he got fed up with me and flew off!


An owl was also located at site No 97, this owl was a bit more alert than the previous and this was as close as I got before he disapeared!


During the search I checked out some potential new sites around the village of Hallaton, a fantastic area that I'd not been to before, a hugh area of remote open countryside with a scattering of mature "holey" trees that just oozes Little Owl! Luck would have it that eventually a new site was located, I was checking out a likely tree when this little chap appeared! I think the noise of the engine running disturbed him, I did managed this one "shaky" distant image from the car before it flew off.

New site No 136.


I checked the tree out and on the southern side I found the nest hole, it was bathed in full sun and I suspect that was where he was before my abrupt intervention disturbed him. I was going to stake it out and hope for his return and the chance of some better images but the wimp in me decided it was too cold and that could wait for another day!.......

2 comments:

  1. Briliant, Paul! And congratulations on the new site. I particularly like the first image - somehow, in spite of the lack of snow, the owl looks really parky! The image with the owl peering round the snowy trunk also appeals to me. I had the same idea as you that day, but came away without seeing any owls. Had better luck the next day, but not with any snow. Looks like there will be plenty of other opportunities over the coming days, however!!

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  2. I love your pictures, really great! And Athenes are my favorite birds.
    The one where it's peeping behind the snow is brilliant.

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