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, 31 January 2012

Learning Curve

In my recent theme of posting "something different" in an attempt to offer variety and keeping things fresh I would like to share with you an experience I had on Sunday that was definitely different but will NEVER EVER be tried again!! 

Before the story can commence I would like to introduce to you "Eddie", he is a stuffed Little Owl that my good friend Ron gave to me. Eddie was found dead in the front grill of an Eddie Stobarts HGV, hence his name! Now Eddie has taken pride of place in my office for a couple of years, he's been a good boy and easy to keep, he just sits there on his perch watching over me and never demands anything.

Eddie the Owl 

Just as I was leaving home on Sunday morning I glanced over to the shelf where Eddie sits and I had a flash of inspiration. Mmmmmm I wonder what kind of a reaction I would get if Eddie was placed within the territory of a known pair of Little Owls? It could be quite interesting to see how they would react beings we are now approaching the start of the breeding season where the male owls do become quite territorial.

At the first Little Owl site I visited I parked up down a lane that had fence posts running away from me on either side of the lane. In the field to my right I picked up a pair of Little Owls sitting in a distant tree, I positioned the car sideways on to them so I could shoot from the car window if they came close enough. After a 30 minute wait the pair hadn't moved any closer so it was time to put "operation owl intruder" into action to see what would happen.....if anything?

Eddie was placed along the lane on one of the left hand posts that ran away from the car, he was in full view of the resident owls and it was now another waiting game to see if he would prompt a reaction of any kind?

Almost immediately one of the owls (presumably the male) flew across from the tree and landed on one of the right hand posts. He totally ignored me hanging out of the car window taking images, he was totally focused on Eddie!

Giving Eddie the stare! 

Within a flash the owl leapt from the post and attacked Eddie, I managed to capture an image of "the attack". The quality of the image is very poor as it was taken in a hurry and through the car windscreen, but there is enough detail to see what occurred. 

The very next image in the sequence was of poor old Eddie falling to the floor and the owl flying off with a talon full of feathers and fur.

The owl then flew to the hedgerow to the left of me, I opened the passenger window a grabbed a couple of shots, if you look carefully Eddie's feathers can still be seen in its talon.

The owl must have been satisfied with the "kill" as it soon flew off back to its mate leaving Eddie's feathers all over the top of the hedgerow.

To be honest if I knew how the owl was going to react I would never have done this experiment, not just for the sake of the owl but for Eddie too! My first concern is always for the welfare of the owls but I must admit this was a fabulous "one off" encounter to witness. I'd always wondered just how territorial the male owls get during the breeding season, I am now in no doubt at all......very aggressive!

For the record, Eddie is now back home nursing his wounds, he is a little bit worse off for his experience but will recover fully in time!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On a completely different subject matter........Blog header images.

My mate Col recently suggested it would be a good idea to regularly change my header images, well my last one of a SEO in flight with a manipulated monochrome background went totally  unseen by him!!!

So just for you Col, here it is again!


  1. Poor old Eddie - I'm currently debating whether to report you to the RSPCSA?
    Interested to see what crazy idea you come up with for the Buzzard !!!!!!!!!!!
    Great fun mate !! - but if it was mine I'd be devastated by the damage to the owl.

  2. Ha ha ha! Now that doesn't convey the actual level of laughter that just occurred as I sit here in front of your blog. A priceless post. Comedy stuff.

    Class SEO. I've heard of one 10 mins from my house! Need time, need light, NEED SEO!

  3. Cheers mate don't know How I missed this stunner,must of lost a couple of days somewhere......hahaha

  4. That is quite a post! Glad Eddie survived. I must admit your story gave me quite a chuckle...

  5. Eddie had quite an adventure. Love your photos.

  6. I'd say Little Owls are mightily territorial!

    Love the SEO image... I guess you did a bit of colour popping... a great technique with photoshop.

  7. just found you're site , nice stuff , the stuffed owl cracked me up !!