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, 5 May 2012

Not one but two!

I knew what I wanted on my latest venture out, a closer view of the Whinchat that I located last week and hopefully the chance of improving on my "poor" distant images, well that is if it was still around and it came close enough? Upon arrival all seemed very quiet, not a soul around, which was good but the bird activity seemed just as subdued.
After pulling up and observing the area things slowly came to life, first bird of note was a flyover Red Kite, then a distant Short Eared Owl was seen quartering in a distant field. Hmmm things were warming up, then from now where a Raven dropped in and landed on the track in front of me, no chance of an image as it was 30 metres or so away and viewing was only possible through the rain covered windscreen, I put the camera on it but I couldn't lock on the focus as it was just a black lump of fuzz. A really good bird to see anytime and I can't ever recall seeing one on the ground before. I watched it in anticipation as to what it was up to? It then took off passing close by a solitary bush and with this there was a scattering of birds, a good un amongst them too! 
The birds that were flushed from the bush were Yellow Hammers and Chaffinches, nothing special really about that but one bird that caught my eye was a male Ringed Ouzel! This was the first ever that I have found myself and a species that I have never managed to photograph before.
It didn't fly too far, just down onto the grass where it started to feed. This gave me the perfect opportunity to bag my first ever image of an Ouzel, a couple of record shots were obtained (below) I then tried to get a bit closer for some improved images but the Ouzel was having none of it! A very shy and flighty bird that didn't take kindly to my presence. I waited around for another 30 minutes hoping it would show again but no such luck.

Ringed Ouzel - Male
Whilst I was waiting for the Ouzel to re-show itself a male Skylark landed in the grass just in front of me, nothing special about this image or the species but it was my first ever capture of one.

Skylark - Male
All the other birds were nice distractions, especially the Ouzel but it was now time to get operation Whinchat back on track. I drove down to the area where I saw it on my last visit and parked up next to a scrubby area that was littered with small gorse bushes.

The first bird of note that came within photographic range was a male Wheatear, whilst it was posing nicely for me a second bird flew in and joined it, oh yes it was the Whinchat!!!!

Wheatear - Male
Not wanting to appear rude to the Wheatear but all my attention was now firmly fixed on the Whinchat, well it was what I came for after all. A splendid male bird and this was the closest I have ever been to one of these whilst  having my camera in the hand.  

I rattled off 20 or so images before I think the Gatling gun sound of the shutter spooked it! I was overjoyed...........mission accomplished!

Whinchat - Male
On the way home I stopped off at one of my Little Owl sites near to the village of Foston, it's been a while since I last saw one and needed a fix. True to form a single bird was eventually located perched up high doing what Little Owls do best.......nothing! 

As I was walking back from seeing the owl a little brown job caught my eye as it was fluttering around on the edge of the oil seed rape crop. I managed to get a fix on it through my binoculars and I couldn't believe what I was looking at, another Whinchat!!!!

The only way I could get close was to drive up the private road that was adjacent to the field. This I did but not before my camo screen was placed over the window. Once I'd got into the desired position the bird flew off into the field, too far away for an image.....dough! As I watched it kept fluttering up catching insects midair and then landing back down on the taller crop stalks. My luck was in because as it continued to feed it was progressively getting closer.

Then my one and only chance finally came, it landed close and was in full view, snap snap snap.....

I am really pleased with the outcome of what I consider to be one of my best ever images, not just because it is Whinchat, but because of the circumstances of its find and the glorious setting/backdrop that the rape field offers. 


  1. Bloody hell mate!! Ring Ouzel, Wheatear, Whinchat, and Little Owl all in one session! You did really well to get an image of the Ouzel. I love the LO image. That second Whinchat image is just brilliant, however. Well done!!!

  2. You lucky git...............brill images mate

  3. Ha ha! Love the little winker Paul - superb 'doing nothing' image and that Whinchat is a sublime image with the stunning background.

  4. Wonderful Whinchat pic, really great. Got to love the winky owl too!

  5. That's definitely a Whinchat image for the 2012 LROS Bird Report Paul! You need to get an original to Carl mate...