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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!!!
Friday, 23 July 2010
Saturday, 17 July 2010
Thursday, 15 July 2010
I have a number of Little Owl breeding sites this year where so far I have only managed to confirmed 1 juvenile, I'm sure a few re-visits to these sites will throw up a few more juveniles and get the overall tally ticking over, it is just a case of putting in more time and having a bit of luck that they show.
For this reason I re-visited Fleckney tonight to again check out site No 19, after a good hour stake out it proved fruitless in terms of more juveniles, the tally at this site still remains at 1 for this year, however both adult birds were located roosting in the nest tree and offered some nice photo opportunities in between the showers.
Adult No 1
Adult No 2
Not wanting to waste too much time at just one location I moved on down the road to check out a potential new site near to Wistow. My mate Nigel thought he saw a Little Owl here a few months ago in a roadside tree so what had I got to lose, I had to go and investigate! I parked up where I thought it looked "owly" and waited. During the hour I was there I heard a Little Owl call on several occasions, but no sightings! I'm not going to give this site the honour of being my 111th site............just yet!!!!! I will re-visit very soon and with a bit of luck will make a sighting and then I will spend some time observing the birds habits and movements, this should then enable me to locate the nest tree and maybe............juveniles!!!!
I have another Little Owl site (No 97) not far from where I found myself so it was off to investigate that further, there is a pair of adults here and I have seen them on many occasions but sadly no breeding evidence this year........so far!
I pulled up next to the nest site and after a half an hours wait an adult bird showed right at the very top of the nest tree. After a while it swooped down into an adjacent field and caught a vole. It flew back with the vole and disappeared in the nest tree, the next thing there was a right commotion .........it was feeding its chicks!
It wasn't long before the greedy little blighters wanted more and showed themselves on the outer limbs of the tree..........and there was three of them!!!!!
Juveniles No 1 & 2.
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
I re-visited site No 11 at Claybrook Magna this evening, although it is getting on in the breeding season I had a hunch that there could still be some late chicks yet to emerge at this site............and there was!!!!
After a short wait one of the adult owls was located sitting at the entrance to the nest location (a barn window), I managed some images (in terms of Little Owls that is) that I'd never achieved before, a natural solid black background, I like it as well, a little different?
I am undecided on which works best though, portrait or landscape? So I uploaded both of them!!!!!
As usual double click on any image for a larger more detailed version.
Saturday, 10 July 2010
Today just seemed to be totally devoid of owls, I was owl n about for around 7 hrs and must have visited over 20 different sites. In total 4 owls were seen at 3 sites and one of those was just a fleeting glimpse...........just what is going on????
Anyhow, as it was a pretty uneventful day and I have nothing much more to say so I'll just leave you with a few images of three of the birds that did show!
As usual, double click on any image for a more detailed and larger version.
As usual, double click on any image for a more detailed and larger version.
Site No 11 at Claybrook Magna, unusual perch?
Site No 107 at Gilmorton, an alert adult.
Site No 107 at Gilmorton, an alert juvenile, one I rung a few weeks ago.
Friday, 9 July 2010
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
The first bird then dropped down onto one of the further away posts and posed nicely, a few more images were in the can.
Then the second bird dropped down a little nearer to me and onto a post with some old string wrapped around it, again it posed nicely whilst I took a few images.
Monday, 5 July 2010
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.
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.
Sunday, 4 July 2010
Saturday morning found me "owl 'n' about" again, accompanied by my good mate, Nigel Spencer, he had come along for the day to seize upon any photo opportunities that may arise during my rounds. Again, my main itinerary was to check out more little Owls sites to see if there had been any more juveniles emerging from the nests.
Time is really against me now as most juveniles should have fledged and locating them becomes harder and harder. My tally for this year has already outweighed last year (which is good news in itself) however I feel it could have been much higher if I'd of had the time to get around and monitor all of my local sites, let alone the further afield ones!!!
The day wasn't going too good and we hadn't seen much until that is we arrived at a location near to site 104 at South Wigston. The local farmer had recently cut the hay in a field which now allowed access to a previous "no go area". I wanted to follow this area up as a previous visit had shown signs of Little Owl activity (pellets). As we drove around the perimeter we neared the suspect area and Nigel spotted an owl sitting out on a limb. I shunted the Landrover back and forth until I was in a position to take a record shot of the bird.
Not sure if this bird was from the nearby site 104, or could it be a new location and site 110? Only time and further investigations will reveal all but for now it will be site 104!
The chicks seemed inquisitive and dropped lower into the tree to get a better look at me and the Landrover, this offered some excellent photo opportunities, when they weren't hiding behind the branches and leaves that is.
Juvenile No 1 - Peek-a-boo!