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, 21 April 2011

Eastern Promises!

A couple of days ago I located four new Little Owl sites in a matter of an hour, an  almost unforgettable evening that I thought could never be matched, well this evening I nearly did just that!!!! I fell one site short though this time with only three new sites! I was over in the eastern part of Leicestershire again, an area that I have gone in search of Little Owls on two occasions and so far it has produced a very healthy SEVEN new sites.

Of the three sites located tonight one was a very brief encounter on a roadside fence, too quick for me to get an image, at another site there was a pair perched up in an old ash tree, the sun was shining straight at me so getting anything but a pair of silhouettes was impossible.
But the best site located today in terms of image opportunities was at an old barn that I stumbled upon not too far from the village of Owston (pronounce Ooston.). Below is an image of the barn taken from the car, looks good hey.......you bet it was! This type of habitat is just perfect for Little Owls so I wasn't surprised at all when I located a single bird hanging around inside it.

Home of the owl at new site No 172

I parked up and after a bit of fumbling around with my camo mesh and "black out screen" that I hand up at the windows it was time to settle down and play a waiting game. The location was perfect, the light levels were excellent so all I needed now to complete the scene was a showy owl. And boy o boy was he a showy owl, maybe the best I have ever encountered!

He first appeared on the roof, I think it must have been curious as to what I was, and what was I doing?

He soon gained some confidence to drop down a bit lower to take a closer look!

Then lower still!

At all times he kept a safe distance (about 20 feet) but I wasn't complaining, it was a perfect distance for near frame filling shots.

Eventually he came down to eye level, he was totally relaxed with me being there, or rather the car being there as there wasn't a chance he could see me, if he had of done he would of been off like a shot! Maybe it was the sound of the shutter on the camera that was drawing his attention?

As he moved from post to post I had a few chances of a "flight image", this was my best effort.

I think this is my favourite image from the hundred or so that I took.

He had a very hectic 30 minutes or so checking me out, eventually he just ignored me and had a snooze, that was my call to leave him alone and depart.

My running tally of sepearate Little Owl territoties has taken a massive leap forward over this last week and now stands at a whopping 173 sites! My target of 200 (it has been revised 4 times!) is still on for completion this year. Needless to say that I will be visiting the promised land of eastern Leicestershire again very soon, surely I can't keep up the average of three and a half new sites per visit?...........Or can I!!!!!!!


  1. Absolutely superb set of images, Paul!! Well done mate!!

  2. Totally agree with Richard mate brilliant shots Paul