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!!!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Mr T comes up trumps!

Last night was a struggled, but I resisted all temptation to go and see the Barn Owls, instead I opted to follow up a Little Owl lead from my mate MR T.

Over the last few weeks he'd seen a Little Owl sitting in a roadside tree just outside the village of Hallaton I needed no further encouragement and off I went. Upon arrival  I was surprised to find just how much traffic there was using this country lane, not really the idea situation for owl hunting/watching. Normally part and parcel of the whole affair is the tranquil piece and quite of the countryside and if no owls shows then that's fair enough it was still a pleasure to be there. This potential site was far from what I was use to, situated at a road T-junction and hardly 30 seconds went by before another car flashed past. This was such a busy place, it just didn't seem right for owls, was I in the wrong place?

I surveyed the general area and in between the trees and hedgerows there was one post in particular that grabbed my attention, standing around four feet high and covered in ivy, if that wasn't an owl magnet I'd eat my hat! I pulled the car over onto the grass verge and did my best to get the post in view.  Camo scrim up at the window, beanbag over the door and camera at the ready it was now a waiting game.

After around an hour the passing traffic died down to just the odd car every 10 minutes or so, it was much quieter and more like what I was use to. Then I heard a hiss, then another and then another, there was no mistaking that sound, a juvenile Little Owl begging for food! It was a real surprise as I've never encountered one out of the nest so early in the year before, possible a result of the spring like weather we had a couple of months ago?

The sound was coming from a thick bush on the far side of the "ivy post".  I was watching the bush through my binoculars when something flashed across my sight of view, the binoculars were quickly lowered and there on the post was the adult owl, get in there site No 212!! It sat there for a matter of seconds before it flew off and joined its mate high up in an adjacent tree, but it was perched long enough for me to have nailed an image of it (below). I decided to crop the image with the whole of the post top showing, I think it makes for a more appeasing and atmospheric shot. As you can see the image was back lit by the setting sun which has resulted in a loss of detail, not much I could have done about that though.

Little Owl (male) - Site No 212 

Another hour was spent waiting for the owl to return or for the juvenile to show, but neither happened.

When it was time to call it a day I had a terrible shock, my car had a horrible grinding and banging noise coming from underneath it. I immediately pulled over and discovered fluid leaking from underneath, I was going nowhere.......fast!

It wasn't too long before the recovery breakdown lorry arrived, it appears that the prop shaft had shattered.........unbelievable!!!!

Whilst waiting for the recovery veichle to arrive Mr T came to my rescue, he brought down some cobs and a flask of soup that his good lady had made for me, how generous was that? They were delicious!!

Thank you Mr & Mrs T.


  1. You had one of "those" adventures. I'm always fearful of them because one never knows. BUT Mr. and Mrs. T sound like wonderful people...and if anything good came from it.....you got to meet new people and shared a memory. Now hopefully the cost won't be too much...

  2. I know that the Landrover has been acting up lately, but I think that it's time to stop treating your low-slung car as the Landy and driving it over ploughed fields, Paul!!! Great result with that image though!!