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!!!

Monday, 16 January 2012

A Change of attack!

Following on from an in depth conversation I had recently with Richard Pegler regarding "boring" owl images and his subsequent excellent blog post I am now taking up his (our) challenge to make a concertive effort to come up with something a bit different. To understand my reference to Richard's comments you can catch up with his blog by clicking HERE.

I think I owe it to my blog readers to offer a bit more variety with my images rather than concentrating all the time on intimate close ups. Although its not easy to continuously offer variance along with an acceptable quality I'll give it a go. A bit more environmental and or unusual behaviour should be the norm from now on, but of course there will always be some "boring" images but hopefully not as frequent!

So let us start with some non flight SEO images, as regular readers of this blog know I am trying desperately to achieve a "perched" shot, it wasn't attained over the weekend but what I can show you is a roosting bird on the ground. The grassy rough pasture that can be seen is typical of where SEO are to be located, their camouflage is perfectly suited.

Another ground roosting bird, a bit closer and in better light, just brilliant how the sun enhances those intense yellow eyes! 

In line with what I have promised, an image that is a bit different. Here a distant SEO can be seen just after catching a vole, it was just about to tuck into its meal when it had some unwanted attention from a Carrion Crow. Judging by the owls stare I don't think it is in any mood to share! 

As I mentioned previously, to offer different types of images sometimes quality and close up detail has to be sacrificed, this next image of a pair or midair owls fighting is typical of that but I think one can get a feel for what was occuring?

Next on the weekend agenda was Little Owls, recently I have tended to keep on going back to the same reliable sites, which obviously makes my life easier but results in the images being very similar? So in order to offer some variety I chose to work on some a new sites, I wasn't confident that I would see any owls let alone achieve any images!

I needn't have worried though as the two chosen locations near to the village of Kirkby Mallory produce the goods with a fine display from both of the resident pairs.

At my site No 142 the pair put in a brief appearance, not that different an image but a good start to the day.

At the second site, No 47 a stake out of the nest entrance finally paid dividends when the hen owl popped her head out to take a look at me.

Whilst I was watching and trying to perfect an image of the hen owl the male flew in and landed on a nearby branch. She was out in a flash and joined him, my first image of the pair together in glorious light, shame about the obstructing twig and slightly messy background!

I was having some superb views of the birds when suddenly they were spooked by the farmers dog that was sniffing around at the base of the tree. They weren't going to hang around and watch whilst it dumped its load, so off they flew to a nearby tree.

Once the coast was clear the owls returned, but this time to a different perch that was in full sunlight and without any clutter in the background.  

I think with hindsight the dog actually did me a favour as the owls had obviously forgot about me hiding in my car, they now seemed totally relaxed. Now I have spent hundreds, no thousands of hours watching Little Owls and what I witnessed next was a first!

They faced each other, dropped their heads and starting rubbing them together! I haven't a clue what it was all about but I did capture an image of them doing it.

After the "strange antics" had lapsed both birds seemed to be very excited, lots of fluttering from tree to tree and squawking, I can only assume it was some kind of pre-breeding season bonding? If you have a theory as to what they were up to I'd be please to hear from you.

The final image from this session was of one of the owls that dropped down to the ground right in front of me, makes a change from a perched bird I suppose!

So hopefully this most recent post offered something a little different, not sure how long I can keep it up though!!!!


  1. Absolutely magical Paul!! My favourites are the first SEO image and the first LO image, but I'd be proud to have taken any of them.

  2. From a chap who has one, very ropey SEO shot in his entire collection, I can never get bored off your classy SEO shots, in any setting, situation or pose. Great owl in the grass and fight scene. You're definitely rising to Richard's challenge!

  3. Wow, absolutely amazing post! All of your photos are stunning! I love the owls rubbing their heads together, what an outstanding capture.

  4. Works for me!! Stonking - love the SEO habitat shots! Pleasure to view them - thanks for posting.