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!!!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Good Samaritans!

A few spare hours on Sunday morning was spent looking for owls at existing sites where no no sightings had been made for a while. Considering the atrocious weather conditions (windy and raining) it wasn't surprising that only a single owl was seen! Site 118 near to the village of Gumley saved the day, a pleasing encounter though as it was last seen in August 2010 and although not a great image it is the best I have managed thus far.

Site No 118, further away than I would have liked but my best yet!

This evening my Little Owl territories increased by another two sites, taking the overall tally to 153. The first was following a hot lead from my good mate John "T" and the second was located by pure accident! 

I'd been working over in the Cambridge area and  just in case I got back into Leicestershire in time the camera was on board. Lucky it was too, as within a minute of arriving at the suspect tree the bird was located, the light was just holding out and a few shots were rattled off. Both John "T" and I have previously seen Barn Owl in this tree but never before Little Owl, but hey hoe I'm not complaining as it was new site!

Near to Horinghold, new site No 152.

Soon after banking the new site I continued on my way home, just after the village of Cranoe I spotted a suspicious "blob" in a roadside tree. I wasn't convinced it was an owl as I was driving too fast, but the curiosity got the better of me so I turned around to investigate further. On the second passing I slowed right down to get a better look, yep I was right first time, Little Owls!! I pulled the car up as tight as I could to the grass verge and as not to dazzle the on coming traffic (I was on the wrong side of the road!) I turned my driving lights off and put my hazard lights on. Slowly I opened the window and although the owls appeared to be alert and very suspicious of my presence they stayed put. 

By now it was getting pretty dark but what the hell, I just had to have a go at getting an image. I had just managed this first image (with flash) when the stopping started! Confused???? The good old locals who were driving by obviously thought I'd broken down and needed some assistance, well you would wouldn't you? Nearly dark, country lane, car parked on the wrong side of the road, no lights on and the hazards flashing!  After the fourth car stopped in no more than a minute I just gave up! 

So this was my image of the owls at new site No 153, as you can see it was pretty dark, no doubt though you can see the owls. The second image (for comparison) is identical to the first but with a little bit of computer manipulation to make it more presentable. 

I will be back, but next time in the light and facing the right direction!

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