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!!!

Friday, 1 July 2011

June round up.

 Sat 25th June

As usual Friday night was spent on the lash (local slang/term for plenty of beer) , it was a heavier night than usual due to me winning £500.00 on a scratch card in the club. Needless to say I was slower than dead on Saturday morning and Daz was elected by me to do the driving!

First off we visited a Barn Owl breeding site that is located in a derelict building in the south of the county. We needed to see how the single chick was fairing in preparation for the up and coming ringing night. The barn is a good two field walk from the nearest parking point, so Daz was elected to check it out alone.

The distant barn, too far for me!

Good old Daz making his way back, good news the chick is growing and doing well.

The next stop was at a Little Owl site in South Wigston, whilst driving to the nest tree one of the adults was seen sitting on a pile of logs, watching us!

We sat and watched for a while and then to our surprise a youngster emerged from within the wood pile, superb another breeding success for this years records. No other images were possible but there are four juveniles at this site.

Daz then spotted another juvenile in the trees, not a Little Owl, but a Kestrel!

Another site where we recorded some fledged juveniles was at my site No 53 near to Countesthorpe. Here we first located an adult owl sitting on the edge of a nearby barn.

As we surveyed the open fields we notched up no fewer than four juveniles. One of them obliged for an image when it posed on top of the barn.

Both adult owls then showed well on the barn, to our amazement they started mating, I ask you right in front of the youngsters! Could there be a second breeding attempt at this site???

We called a premature end to the day due to our hangovers, we headed off home and then to the pub!

Sunday 26th June

I didn't get out until late on Sunday, it was a glorious sunny evening and I went back to South Wigston to further investigate a site that Daz and I had checked out the day before. En route I passed site no 105, here I located a juvenile sitting in a tree, nothing special about the image apart from I captured it omitting a pellet.

I arrived at my "stake out" site around 8.15pm, I had suspicions of a nest cavity and I wanted to see if anything would emerged as the light faded. Around 9.30pm just as the sun was setting a juvenile clambered out of the cavity and sat at the entrance.

After a further 30 minute wait another juvenile showed, it was really dark by now and this was my last image of the night. Then at 10.00pm a third juvenile appeared, the three of them waited patiently for mum and dad to show.

Monday 27th June

Tonight it had been arranged for the Charnwood Ringers to visit and the plan was to ring more Little & Barn Owls. Sadly during my sites surveys in the preceding days the 3 Little Owl sites I'd got my eye on all let me down! I missed the juveniles at one site, they fledged earlier than I expected, a second site failed to produce any breeding evidence and the third site had been taken over by Stock Doves!

Never the less, we soldiered on and concentrated on Barn Owls. Originally we were going to visit 3 separate sites, but it was decided not to visit the third as we had already rung 3 of the 5 chicks there and a re-visit could cause distress and make the juveniles fledged too early.

At the first of the Barn owl sites the box was very high up in the eaves of a dutch barn, luckily I had arranged to borrow the land owners tractor that had had a cage fitted to it.

Andy getting ready to be hoisted up!

Andy up in the eaves, he just managed to reach the chicks.

There were three very healthy chicks, all were rung and returned as soon as possible.

Due to finishing the ringing earlier than planned I opted to go in search of more fledged Little Owls. I also wanted to try and get a "day light" image of the owls at my recently located site No 184 near to Wistow. It was a waiting game but eventually I managed an image, it wasn't really what I was after, more of a twilight image but better than my previous attempts.

3 juveniles were also noted, disappointingly I never managed a decent image because they were the other side of a gate!!!

Tuesday 28th June

The evening was spent searching for more fledged juveniles, at site No 75 no juveniles were noted but I did manage this comical image of one of the adults at the nest entrance.

Site No 22 produced another 4 fledgling, 1 was a Little Owl and 3 were Kestrels, amazingly the separate nests were only about 2 feet apart!

Juvenile Kestrel.

The last fledged Little Owl located on the night was a bit bazaar and a mystery to me. The nest cavity had been checked on two previous occasions in the last few weeks and nothing!!! No owls and no eggs so when I drove past and saw this Little Owl juvenile looking back at me it was a surprise to say the least.

Weds 29th June

This evening I ventured further a field in search of more juveniles, it was over in the eastern part of my survey area that I chanced upon my newest Little Owl site so far, No 186! I managed some half decent images but the light wasn't helping as it seemed to be always coming from behind the bird!

At site No 186 I also saw a second owl and heard the distinctive hissing of a juvenile, although I couldn't see it as it was hiding deep in the hedgerow!

And finally to bring things right up to date a final juvenile image from my site No 154, there's at least 2 juveniles here taking my proven tally to 22 different sites...............so far!!!!


  1. Jack says these are "Brilliant !!!!!"
    Love the pellet getting coughed up - superb summary.

  2. Nice work,superb....i liked your web a lot!!
    Could you put pictures of the houses or plans so I can see wich models you use and how good they are.
    Keep in touch!!

  3. Excellente
    Tank you for sharing