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!!!

Monday, 28 February 2011


Saturday had been long planned in for putting up some more Barnie boxes, Col "high viz jacket" Green and myself in the morning, and then around 1.30pm meet up with Daz and go over to Thornton to see Andy Smith to erect a few more........well that was the plan!!!

Col "HVJ" turned up at my place at 8.00am, it was going to be a really productive day, the target was to put up 7 boxes. It was planned with military precision, we knew all the sites we were going to, what time we would be there, how long it would take, etc etc, but nobody told the weatherman that!!! 

It was awful, it couldn't have been worse, it had been raining solid for a couple of days and it had ruined our best laid plans. Its not that we don't like getting wet, we were dressed for it, the problem was getting to the sites. No respectable landowner was going to take kindly to me driving the Landrover across their soggy water drenched fields cutting, or rather ploughing them up!

At the eleventh hour a change of plan was required..........BARNS, and easy accessible ones at that. If they were close enough to where I could park we could carry the kit and work inside! That was it, we made our way over to an area where I knew of a cracking barn with a gravel track leading to it, oh no I didn't! On arrival the field had been ploughed over and the track had gone! It was too late now, we just had to go for it, so we slipped and slided around the edge of the field in an attempt to get close. On route we stumbled across a little spinney in the corner of a field that had single dead tree that just shouted out to us, "come and put a box on me", so we did!

We didn't hang around either, we just got on with the job in hand. 

In no time at all the 1st box of the day was up.

I went up to check Col's work, (as if it needed checking) yeah all OK good job mate!

A nice position too, high hopes for this one!

Pleased with our quick erecting efforts we packed up the kit and continued our way to the barn, on route I had the dreaded but expected phone call from Andy Smith, the planned box erecting for the afternoon over at Thornton had to be cancelled, the fields were just too boggy and the farmer was convinced we would get stuck!

We arrived at the barn, all the required kit was unloaded and we got on with putting up the next box, and thankfully it was in the dry. What greeted us inside the barn lifted our damp spirits, Barn Owl pellets were everywhere, I counted over 50 and some were very fresh indeed. The barn was obviously being used as a roost, this gave us extra motivation to get on with the job.

Barn Owl pellets and poo.

A bit of an "arty" image of Col up in the rafters with the box.

Where to next???......I knew of another easily accessible barn that would be idea for another box, the only problem was I hadn't got permission for access. I knew where the landowner lived so we went and introduced ourselves! He was pleased to see the good work we were doing and entry was granted.

Not really a barn, more like a small hovel really but it was a perfect location for our third box of the day. An additional bonus was it was obviously being used by roosting Barn Owls as a pile of pellets were discovered inside.

Its wasn't a surprise we found pellets inside, this is the pasture adjacent to the barn, absolutely perfect for hunting Barn Owls.

Inside the hovel it was a little cramped for space and very dark, good job Col had his High Viz Jacket on otherwise I wouldn't of been able to see him!!!

The third box of the day up and in position.

The day was now getting on and Col had to leave as he had a pressing appointment elsewhere. He didn't say what it was but judging by his jacket I reckon he's got a part time job as a lollipop man!!!

After Col departed I assessed the day's results which were rather disappointing, we had only managed to erect 3 boxes out of the planned 7, but that was the dammed weather for you! As there was still plenty of time left I decided to visit another known Barn where I did have permission to go. Due to the fact I hadn't heard from Daz (must of gone to watch the footie) I opted to "go it alone".  

I called in to see the farmer who owns the barn, he said it was OK for me to go and put a box up as he thought I'd be able to drive down as the fields were quite dry and wouldn't cut up, mmmmmmm!!!

It took a lot longer to erect the box on my own as compared to when help is at hand, it was a bit of a struggle at times but the outcome was OK.........I think! I'm not quite as proficient as Col at putting them up, hopefully it won't have fallen down come the next time I visit???

Looking back down into the valley of the last site/barn of the day, a picturesque setting with my Landrover tracks clearly visible, ooooppps!!!

To summarise, the day looked like it was going to be a total washout, but in the end it turned out really well. Four more boxes up and in locations that evidence suggests are frequented by Barn Owls on a regular basis, here's hoping they will choose to take up residence.........soon!

All being well and a bit of decent weather, more boxes will be put up at Thornton next week?

Thanks for your help Col.........top man!


  1. I really admire your dedication Paul. I'm sure it will be rewarded. Well done!!

  2. Well done guys, especially considering the conditions. A big pat on the back for you both.

  3. I thought we done well mate considering the weather........thanks for Sat evening relly enjoyed it

  4. About time Col did a bit of work?! Lol ;-)