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!!!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Cookies & Owls!

What a superb few hours owling I had this evening, and to round it off the last site I visited must rank up there with the very best owl sites around! Anyway, I'm jumping ahead of myself so let me start with the first site of the evening, a return to my new site 177 at Bitterswell. On the day I located this site (19th May) the light was really poor so the intention of today's visit was to try and attain some more natural looking images in the daylight.

Although the evening sun was still strong and the light levels good it was still very windy which makes searching out the owls all the more harder! I drove slowly around the edge of the field on the sheltered side of the hedgerow and eventually I accidentally flushed the male owl out of a ditch. I pulled up and watch him from a comfortable distance and he soon continued with his task of grubbing around on the floor looking for some juicy morsels.

I'd soon got the "daylight" image I'd come for, not really a "flight image" more of a take off shot really, but considering the distance I'm pretty pleased with it! 

After watching him for 10 minutes or so I chanced my arm a drove nearer, a much closer and more detailed image was soon in the can but he only tolerated my closeness for a few seconds before he was off!

The second site I stopped off at was my site No 107 near to Gilmorton,  locating the owl at this site was pretty easy today as I know he loves to sit in and around a nearby haystack. So I just headed for the sheltered side of it and hey presto there he was!

The next location in my evening plan was to re-visit to my newest site at Desford, the one that Col put me onto the night before last. I needed to introduce myself to the owner of the farm and hopefully gain permission for access. Sadly there was no answer, as I was only just down the road from my site No 115 at Brascote that's where I opted to go for the last hour or so. This site is in the back garden of a residential property and the only access is up a driveway to the only viewing location, on the back lawn!  

Luckily the home owners were in and permission was granted for me to go into their garden to see if the owls were about. As on my previous visit they insisted that it would be OK for me to drive my Landrover over their back lawn!!! I didn't need any further encouragement so I did just that! I positioned the Landrover smack bang in the middle of the lawn in a area where I could see both the nest entrance and a favourite landing perch.

I settled down and waited for dusk to arrive.....the owling hour! I'd only been waiting about 10 minutes when the good lady of the house was tapping on my window with a very welcoming cup of coffee, how good is that?

Shortly after I located the male owl perched up high in a holly bush, he was out hunting which strengthened my suspicions that there could well be chicks in the nest. If that was the case then in all probability the hen bird would still be in the nest brooding her youngsters and wouldn't emerge until it was nearly dark. For this reason I chose to concentrate all my efforts on getting an image at the nest entrance. 

It was now a waiting game, but not for long! The sun dipped down behind  a nearby barn which put the nest site entrance into the shade, seconds later out popped the female owl! 

She flew up onto the barn roof and then disapeared the otherside of it. I decided that was enough, I'd got the image of her at the nest entrance that I wanted so it was time to go.

Just as I was starting to pack up all my kit I had another visit from the "garden waitress service", another cup of coffee and a large very tasty looking cookie.......oh this is the life!!! Out came all the kit again as it looked as though my stay was going to be extended somewhat! As the light had all but gone I needed to have a change of tactics, on went the speedlight flash and the remote shutter release, I then switch to manual and pre focusing on the nest entrance. I was now able to concentrate on my cookie and coffee but be prepared at the same time should the owl return, and it did!

So as I was saying at the start of this post, this must be the best owling site I have ever visited, fantastic views of the owls with the added value of good comfortable garden viewing, and the bonus of coffee and cookies!!!..........How lucky am I?????


  1. lucky ? - spolit i reckon ;-)
    yours enviously !

  2. Yeh very spoilt Stevie, if you didn't know you'd think I was round at my mums!!!!

  3. I'll have to have a word with the good lady of the household next time she's out running with the dogs

  4. Oh no don't do that Col, it might spoil my chance of curry and chips on my next visit!!!