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!!!

Thursday, 24 February 2011


Is any body going to believe it???
Not even sure if I do yet!!!
A fiirst for me in Leicestershire, (only my second ever sighting in the UK),
Self found,
And it was.............AN OWL!!!

OK, let me calm down and explain......

This evening after work I visited a local area to hopefully see Barn Owls, I arrived around 5.30pm just as the light was starting to fade, first sighting was of the resident Little Owls, a pair sitting out in their nest tree, a little too dark and too far away for quality images but good to see never the less.

The resident Little Owl emerging from its nest hole.

I moved a 100 yards or so further up the lane from the where the Little Owls were and parked up, a good vantage point for Barn Owls, if they were to show? I wasn't to be disappointed either, I'd been waiting only 5 minutes when I spotted a Barnie in the distance, it was flying low along a field side verge and heading straight for me! I set the camera up on the highest ISO possible and waited, it came close, really close but due to the low light levels I just couldn't "lock on to it" for an image, dam and blast! Up and over the car it went and then disappeared behind a hedgerow, they were brilliant views, something I would have loved to of captured an image of. Then would you flipping believe it, a second Barn Owl!! It too followed an identical path to the first, only this one landed on a post not 10 yards from the car, I'd resigned myself to no images so I just sat and admired what utterly awesome and graceful birds they are.

In seconds they had both disappeared into the darkness, I was well satisfied with what I had seen but wanted MORE!!! I tried an old trick, to imitate a mouse noise! (a sort of silly squeaking) to see if I could bring them back, it has worked for me before so why not now?

After 5 minutes I'd about given up when suddenly one of them flashed past only two feet from my window, WOW the squeaking worked! It landed on top of a hedgerow and offered some super close up but silhouetted views. Hang on a minute, that's no Barn Owl...........it's a Tawny Owl! It then turned it's head and what I then saw I couldn't believe.......oh my god IT HAD TUFTS.......It was a LONG EARED OWL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dark or not, I had to get a record shot, yes I know the image (below) is terrible and out of focus but it was the best of a bad bunch. Remember though, it was taken in almost pitch blackness, hand held, manual focus and a shutter speed of 2 seconds!!!! But without doubt, it's a LONG EARED OWL and only my second ever sighting of one and my first in Leicestershire, Yes Yes Yes get in THERE!!!!!

It sat totally motionless for 5 minutes before it flew off, unperturbed I tried the squeak again, and it worked!!! It returned and sat on top of the same hedgerow but this time it was a little closer. I knew there was a chance that if I turned on the car lights I could get a better image but would it spook it? I had to try my luck, on they went, driving lights, full beam and even the fog lights and my luck was in as it stayed put! This gave me just enough light to get a better image (below), still hand held, manual focus and a shutter speed of 2 seconds but with the aid of the flash and some post processing on the computer it was a much better image.

What a brilliant night, two Little Owls, two Barn Owls and a real rarity for Leicestershire, a fabulous LONG EARED OWL!
Does owling get any better?????


  1. Superb stuff Paul, top story and congratulations.......

  2. Very well done, your effort certainly paid off.

  3. what a pleasant long-eared surprise & 3 owls in one session !!- certainly one to remember

  4. I thought that I'd had a great day (will be on my blog soon) - until I read your posting - your day certainly knocks spots off mine! Brilliant!! Well done!!