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, 23 August 2011

Finish at the Start!

Today, weather wise it was an abysmal day here in Leicestershire, however the early evening skies started to clear somewhat and the sun poked through......occasionally. That was the excuse I was looking for, the kit was loaded and I was out! I'd planned to visit several Little Owl sites in the eastern part of Leicestershire, but due to how the evening unfolded I soon discarded watching the owls in favour of searching for another species of bird?

I was near the Langton's (a scattering of small villages north of Market Harborough), I settled down at the chosen owl site near to a huge pile of timber (a yet to be lit bonfire). I knew the resident owls liked to sit in amongst the pile when the sun was out, and this evening they duly obliged!

A 30 minute wait and they appeared.

After a while the sun disappeared behinded yet another blanket of clouds, doohhh!! But that was when the action started, the owls gave up on their sunbathing and started to move in and around the bonfire. The light wasn't so good but it was a small price to pay as they were offering some interesting photo opportunities, which is unusual for Little Owls as normally they are very static and very boring!

Whilst they stayed down low in the bonfire getting the correct exposure wasn't too much of a problem, but when they opted to go up higher the horrid grey backdrop made things extremely difficult, where's the blue sky when you need it?

The high level of activity soon slowed down though, the owls had made their way back up to the top of the pile and just sat there! I was just thinking about moving on when, hang on what the hell was that just behind the owls??

Strange bird in the background.

I refocused on the mystery bird.......Bloody hell it was a Common Redstart!!!!

I have only ever seen a Common Redstart in Leicestershire on a handful of previous occasions, let alone ever photographed one!!! Wow this was so unexpected, I deserted the owls and spent the next hour or so trying to relocate it..........to no avail!

So I will have to do with this very poor image, (below) a heavily cropped portion from the image above.

I would say this bird is a juvenile male, and contray to the name, (Common Redstart) they are definitely not that common here in Leicestershire! They are a summer visitor to the UK and are normally seen when they make a "feeding pit stop" whilst en route to their breeding grounds in the spring, or on their return journey to Africa where they over winter.

So all in all a pretty eventful evening, and I bet there isn't many people in the world that can boast a Little Owl and a Redstart in the same image........... 


  1. I wonder why the Common Redstart is not scared of the owls? Very interesting.

  2. Wow! What a fantastic find Paul. The LO images aren't too bad either !!!! ;} Well done!!

  3. This blog is awesome! As a fan of owl and all wildlife, wow!

  4. Great series of images. Your new camera is obviously working out well.

  5. Dread to think what images will be like when you get use to your new camera..brilliant mate

  6. Thanks for yor comments everyone, very encouraging!