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!!!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Jewel in the crown.

I have been a bit lazy of late, maybe the longest I have gone between posts on this blog? For good reason though, rain rain and yet more rain! It has made it almost impossible to get out after work unless that is one is equipped with a frog mans suit!

Anyway, today (Saturday) it was time to brush off the cobwebs and get out there come rain or shine, and guess what? Yep it was the former! 

Several owl sites were visited and nothing seen, maybe my snorkel and flippers had put them off! The day wasn't all doom and gloom though, as I was flitting about from site to site on the  Leicestershire/Northants boarder when I chanced upon a small passage of Wheatear. Difficult to say just how many there were because they wouldn't stay still long enough to get an exact count but a conservative guess would be eight, or was that nine, maybe even ten.....?

Of the group two of them seemed to be more confiding than the rest, it was these two (below), a male and a female of which I managed my best and closest images. At first I kept driving along the track that was parallel to the field they were in, this worked to a certain extent but they were a bit flighty and the quality of the images were poor!

A different approach was then employed, I parked up and waited for them to come to me, it finally worked but it was a longer waiting game than I anticipated! I am really pleased with how my efforts turned out, they are by far the best images I have ever achieved of this species.

Wheatear - Female

Wheatear - Male

Wheatear - Male

Wheatear - Male

I was about to call it a day when I remembered that my "team" Leicester City were playing their last game of the footie season away at "Dirty Leeds". I tuned in the radio to the live commentary of the game, this relieved the boredom somewhat so I decided to stay put a while longer with the Wheatears.

And what a great decision that turned out to be as another "quality" species (well for me it is anyway!) and the jewel in the crown of the day was spotted skulking around in the undergrowth........a Whinchat!!!!!

I have only ever seen a Whinchat on a handful of previous occasions, and this was the first that I had located myself. The single bird, a male seemed far more nervous than the Wheatear and didn't come as close. However, I was thrilled to have found it and very pleased to have got my first ever image of one, albeit distant.
Whinchat - Male

A cracking mornings birding and unbelievably not an owl seen! It was then made all the better as my beloved Leicester City beat Leeds 2-1..........get in there you blue boys!!!!!


  1. Thanks for the comment about the Otter mate, right place at the right time! Your Whinchat find was a cracker too ;), as were the Wheatear now I mention it!

  2. Now that is a result - bird images not that bad either! Only joking! They're superb mate, a real stroke of luck coupled to some good fieldcraft, and excellent photography - well done you!!

  3. Nice set of pics Paul, I'm very envious as I haven't managed to get a sniff of either these so far this year.

  4. Great set of pics Mate,and the Whinchat is an excellent find

  5. Douglas Mcfarlane4 May 2012 at 00:21

    Paul, the best way to photograph Wheatears is as follows, 1:Select Wheatear you wish to photograph 2:Make sure there's nothing you're going to trip over 3:Walk backwards towards the Wheatear (seriously). When I was told this nugget/tip I thought the bloke was taking the proverbial, I tried (when no-one could see me) it and it works!!!! Seriously try it