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, 26 July 2011

Close Encounters!!!!

Got out later than planned this evening, I'd missed what good light we'd had for decent images so I had to be content with just doing a bit of owl watching, but where? As I hadn't visited the local Barn Owls for a while that's where I headed.

It wasn't much of a wait either, only about 20 minutes! Two of the four juveniles duly obliged and put in an appearance at the barn window. It was good to see that they are obviously doing well, in fact they are now very handsome birds. Although the conditions were poor I still had a go at getting some images, high ISO and low shutter speeds resulted in a load of trash, but there was a couple of salvageable ones......just?

My time with the Barn Owls was all too brief, it was soon bitch black and time to head off. On the way back I stopped off at my Little Owl site No 91 near to Kilby. I pulled up and parked not far from the nest tree.

I kid you not, what happen next was unbelievable but true!!!!

I sat in my car peering into the darkness whilst straining my ears for any evidence of owl activity when out of nowhere a juvenile Little Owl landed on a fence post right next to the car. It was so close I could of put my arm out of the window and tickled its belly,  I dare not move, it obviously hadn't seen me?

It then dropped down onto the tarmac road beside the car and starting hopping around in a frenzy. I soon realised that it was feeding on flying ants, there had been an explosive hatch of them this evening and there must of been millions of them, especially on the road! Soon after it was joined by another two juveniles, they were all so preoccupied with gorging on the ants they didn't even bother about me.

I sat watching in amazement, but then I was amazed even further, one by one they fluttered up and landed on the bonnet of my car! They sat there all cuddled up together, the nearest one was perched on my windscreen wiper! They seemed very content, they'd had a good feed and the warmth of the bonnet from when the engine was running must have been to their liking. At one point all three were staring straight at me, I was transfixed!

After a few minutes they were back down on the ants again, I took this chance to reach across and get my camera. I engaged the flash and then manually focused on the fence post next to my car, it took a while but during another rest bite two of the owls did land on it and I got these images of them (below) they were so close I couldn't even fit their whole body into the frame!

Over the last few years I had some really close encounters with owls, but nothing as ridiculous as tonight, and before you ask yourself if I'd been drinking and dreaming, no I haven't, it's totally true...........HONEST!!!


  1. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. What an amazing encounter....not had a drink, I bet you did after!!!
    Cheers David