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!!!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Sitting Ducks!

Only a couple of miles from where I live is a pretty large retail shopping complex and adjacent to it is a commercial park that just seems to be increasing in size by the month. Nearly every time I pass through the area another piece of greenery has been gobbled up and a "fancy pants"  office has taken its place. Now in the middle of this great grey and shiny window sprawl is a yet to be developed piece of waste/scrub land, each year it gets smaller and smaller and it is now complete surrounded by buildings, car parks and Workman's huts.

The piece of wasteland has had a good reputation in the past to see passage migrants, especially Wheatears. Each year in the spring they can usually be seen when they stop off for a few days and feed up before continuing their journey north. This year was no exception with the local birding fraternity reporting up to a dozen birds at a time. Although I had already made a couple of visits this spring I decided to make yet another quick visit and get in on the action.

Camera in hand I wondered around the perimeter of the complex and soon picked up three different Wheatears, nice to see but too far for an image. Also seen whilst strolling around were Linnets, Goldfinches, a Meadow Pipit, two Lapwings and Little Ringed Plovers. The Plovers were very active in a particular area over on the far side, so I drove around nearer to where they were and watched from my car. As I sat and observed them it was surprising just how close they were to the public footpath and the passing shoppers & workers. They didn't seem bothered in the slightest about the close proximity of the human traffic so that is when I hopped out of the car and joined the procession. Unlike most of the folk who were oblivious of the Plovers presence and passed them by I stopped as so as I came along side them, no more than 15 feet away! 

I soon understood why they were so bold, or should that be so stupid as I could make out their nest on the ground with four eggs in it!!! I know it must be instinct for these birds to return to this site year after year but surely it won't be long before the eggs are either crushed under the wheels of a parking car or trodden on by an unsuspecting passer by?

They are just sitting ducks!!!!!!


  1. This is where the law gets a bit difficult to implement. This is a Schedule 1 protected bird, and it is a criminal offence to wilfully or recklessly disturb them whilst they are nesting - what the hell do you do when they choose to nest beside a footpath? Putting protection round them would just draw attention to their presence.

  2. Douglas Mcfarlane20 May 2012 at 17:40

    I agree Richard, but if the nest site is fenced off it stops anyone using the excuse "sorry I didn't know they were there". Shame the remaining habitat doesn't get an SSSI status that might slow down anymore expansion of grey buildings. Good luck with that though.