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, 15 June 2011

Two out of three aint bad!

For anyone who read my previous post you will no doubt recall that I challenged myself to find 3 new Little Owl sites at a brand new group of pasture fields (new for me anyway) that a local land owner very gracefully introduced me to yesterday..........Well tonight I set about that challenge!

It was a gorgeous evening, the persistent wind that had been with us for the last couple of weeks had abated, leaving a perfectly still and sun drench evening, absolutely perfect for locating owls. I also had a bit of help with me tonight, my teenage daughter Louise! (I know I don't look old enough do I??) She decided it was time to tag along to see what her "geeky, nerdy" dad (her words not mine!) got up to most evenings. 

Before we went on our discovery of the new pastures I wanted to stop off at my Little Owl site No 28. I erected a nest box here last year and it was time to check it out. I wasn't that hopeful as I haven't seen an owl here for months and have never managed an image. We checked out the location from a safe distance and surprise surprise a Little Owl, and it was very near the nest box! We just had to investigate further, upon closer inspection we discovered a very dirty front to the box, especially below the entrance hole. This is so consistent with other occupied boxes I have, and the final bit of evidence were the fly's! They were swarming in and around the hole, a good sign that there was a dead rodent or two in the box! I will be utterly amazed if the box hasn't got chicks in it, I'd no ladders with me so I'll check it out tomorrow.

Anyway we eventually arrived at the new pastures, we spent the next couple of hours driving around whilst scanning the posts, dead trees and any potential perching areas for owls.  Nothing was seen on our outbound journey but on the return we had a bit of success. We heard owls calling at two different locations, a pair  at the first which were too distant to photograph and a solitary bird at the second. 

As we watched the owl at the second location it came and landed on a gate post quite close to us. It was now 9.55pm and almost dark but I had to try and attain an image. In total I rattled off 90 shots, and the first image below is a fair representation of 89 of them, it was far too dark which resulted in nothing but blurs!  

But I got somewhat lucky, there was a single image that was just about salvageable, below.

On the way home we stopped off at site No 174 in Blaby, I located this site only last month and at the time only had a very brief sighting of a single owl. Well we made a big improvement on that as tonight, we sat and watched a pair come in really close, they were no further than 10 feet away!!

A truly successful evening,  confirmation of a new breeding site, a confirmed pair at another site and I don't think that achieving only the two new sites (No's 183 & 184) out of the planned three is too bad? But I found the most amazing thing of all was, Louise really enjoyed herself, I wonder if she dare tell her friends what she's been up to? I guess not, its not "cool" going out with your sad dad!