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, 19 April 2011

Late dash to Owl village!

Yesterday after work the evening weather was glorious, there was only one thing on my mind....owls!!! I nipped out into the local country side to see what owls were about and during my search between two known sites a brand new one was discovered!

A roadside tree that I have driven past on dozens of previous occasions produced the goods, goodness knows how I have never seen them before? Anyway, as you have possibly deduced there was a pair and they offered some good views and yes I managed a half decent image of both of them, come on in site No 167!

Owl No 1 site 167 

Owl No 2 site 167

Just before 6.00pm I arrived home and checked my emails, plenty of the usual junk and spam but the subject matter on one particular email caught my eye. It was from my good friend and LROS (Leicester Rutland Ornithology Society) member Ken Goodrich and it was about Little Owls. He and his wife Jean had seen a Little Owl that morning near to the village of Somerby, an area that so far I have never visited. A quick look at the clock, it was nearly 6.30pm, a quick calculation on time verses distance, it was going to be a close run thing if I was to get there before it got dark but that was it, I was in the car and on my way.

I followed Kens directions exactly and 30 minutes later I was sitting there in my car looking at a distant owl in a tree and my brand new site No 168.

Owl No 1 at site 168. 

Unintentionally I parked quite close to the nest tree, and a glance upwards produced the second owl at this site, nice close views but the light didn't allow for a great image.

Owl No 2 at site 168. 

It had been a good evening owling wise, two new sites and pairs at them both! It was now getting late, the owls had gone into hiding and the light was receding fast so it was time to head home. I retraced my tracks back through Somerby and on the other side of the village guess what??? Yep you guessed right, another Little Owl!!! This one couldn't be missed, it was sitting there on top of an old barn roof, I'm sure it must have been saying "here I am!!!". Although it was late I did manage this record shot (below), unfortunately that is as good as image as I could manage as it didn't come any closer. I'm not complaining though, how could I it was another new site!!

First image at new site No 169

I waited around at site No 169 but only the single owl was seen, wow what a night! I moved off and continued on my way home. After another half mile or so and still within the confines of the village of Somerby things started to get ridiculous, there in a roadside tree sat another pair of Little Owls!!! Oh my god this area was magic for owls, they were around every corner, almost dripping out of the trees!. The owls sat there in the tree looking at me whilst I fumbled around with my camera, it was just too dark for the auto focus to work, I had no choice but to switch to manual focus and flash. The resultant image is absolutely terrible, but believe me it was the best of a really bad bunch!

The pair of Little Owls at new site No 170

What more can be said about an absolutely stunning evenings owling, 4 new sites in a matter of a few hours and my personal tally takes a huge jump upto 170 sites. Thanks to Ken for the tip off on the first site, needless to say I shall be returning to Somerby or should it be Somowlsby again very soon, next visit I hope to find FIVE new sites........yeah righto!!!!!!

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