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!!!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

As good as it gets!

A very limited week has just passed in terms of getting out and doing any evening owling, far too many work and family commitments saw to that, however all was not lost as yesterday made up for an average week and in the end it turned out to be an unbelievably productive couple of hours. The day was bitterly cold, clear skies and sunshine, conditions like these normally made good for seeing owls.

I was traveling home from Cambridge and the monotony of the motorways found me turning off earlier than normal to take a different and new route home. Nothing out the ordinary occurring, some nice scenery and plenty of "owly looking locations were passed. Then when I entered the eastern part of Leicestershire I started to look a bit more intently, as I passed nearby to the village of Drayton a roadside hovel was noted. Hmmmmm, it looked so good for owls I was compelled to turn around and investigate further. I parked up alongside and from my vantage point I could see right inside. Good job too as would you believe my luck, perched up at the back was a Little Owl!!! It spotted me and I don't think it liked what it saw, a very nervous bird because in a flash it was up and off!  Obviously no time for any images, but hey ho a new site, No 145. Just after the land owners came by in their tractor and we got talking all things owls, a very obliging couple and permission was granted for me to return and stake out the site, a trip for a weekend maybe?

Further on and a little nearer home I passed my site No 58 near to Peatling Magna, I pulled the car over and the resident pair of owls were out basking in the late sun, no images though as they were too obscured by the branches.  Whilst sitting there I casually scanned the horizon through my binoculars and a glowing blob caught my eye in a distant Oak tree, (image below). I was sure the blob was a Little Owl, this needed further investigation!

The glowing blob, can you see it? Double click the image for larger version.

I drove around the corner and pulled up next to the tree, I was right a Little Owl, my second new site of the day, get in there site 146!!! As can be seen from the image I took from the car it was sitting next to what appears to be its nest hole.

Once I'd canned a few record shots I got out of the car in an attempt for a closer image. It took a few minutes as I slowly circumnavigated the tree getting closer and closer, all the time the owl didn't budge but it watched me like a hawk, then eventually I was in a position with good light and the sun off my back to get the image I was after. 

Some much closer views were had which resulted in this image.

Ten minutes later I was at it again, yes unbelievably another new site!!!  I was driving through the village of Wistow when again I spotted a shining blob in a very nice looking tree. I pulled up got the binoculars out and BINGO!!! A Little Owl was sitting in the huge crack of a tree getting some sun, a terrible record shot from distance was all I could manage, I will be planning in a return visit soon.

New site 147, can you see it? 

By now I was absolutely elated with the 3 new sites, the day couldn't get any better........but it did! As I was entering the village of Kilby I passed my site No 119, I glance across and the owl was out. Normally I wouldn't be too fussed but as I have never managed an image of the birds here I pulled up and got out camera at the ready. I had to lean across a gate to get a clear view, a little distant but at least I'd got what I was after.

My first ever image at site No 119.  

The same thing happened at site No 73, as I drove by the owl was out! Another site that I'd never managed an image at.....until now. I watched the owl fly and land in a tree of a back garden of a nearby house. Wasting no time I knocked on the door and again a very hospital resident allowed me to investigate. I walked up the garden and the owl was located sitting in the isolated tree. Slowly I inched nearer and nearer and although the light wasn't brilliant I got the shot.

My first ever image at site No 73.

Nothing else to be said, a brilliant few hours, possibly never to be bettered!!!


  1. Ruddy marvelous, Paul - well done!!! The weather for the last couple of days has certainly brought the Little Owls out - shame that today looks as if it's going to be dull weather.

  2. Yes guys it was "ruddy Marvelous", and a "nice way to end the week", I was very lucky with the weather conditions though.

  3. Hi Paul, here's a challenge for you can you find me a Little Owl site in the city boundaries!
    Skev, Mr Hague and myself are doing City year list challenge and this year I want to win it! ;-)

  4. Leave it to me Dave, you will be the firt to know when I find one, what are my boundry constraints?

  5. Hi Paul, the birds needs to be within the city boundaries. Possible areas I would have thought would be good are Aylestone Meadows, Lubbesthorpe and maybe Beaumount leys?
    Also the city boundaries is basically the outer ring road around the city and the A46 by-pass at Beaumount Leys.

  6. Hi Dave, have responded to you by email ref -Little Owl search within the city boundary.