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, 12 June 2012

Pied Beauties

No owling was conducted over the weekend, instead I took a break from the little hooters (well screeches really if you want to get technical) and headed off over to mid Wales. The intended quarry...............Pied Flycatchers.

I have never manager to get up close and personal with these gems before so when an invite came in from Mick & Kev I jumped at the chance. I first met Mick at the Birdfair in Rutland a couple of years ago and since then the odd email has bounced between us. Until the weekend I'd never met Kev but we often comment on each others images that are posted on the Birdguides website.

We arranged to meet at the private location on Sunday morning at 7.00am, it was a three hour journey from Leicester which meant setting off at 3.30am! Lucky for me Daz was coming along and he offered to drive, oh yes!

Upon arrival Daz and I were in awe, the setting was simply stunning, high mountains peaks, deep wooded valleys, flowing streams everywhere and in the middle of it all a welsh long house. Mick has been the guardian of this gorgeous site for a number of years and the nest box scheme he runs gathers momentum year on year. The boxes he has erected are being used mainly by Common Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers and lucky for us at two of the boxes there was plenty of activity because the Pieds chicks had just hatched.

Mick was very prepared for our visit, two hides had been erected the day before at each box that had the chicks in them. Daz went into one and I the other, after an hour Mick came and collected us both because whilst we were busy getting our first batches of images he was cooking us breakfast!! The local bacon and the leek and apple sausages were just yummy. Just as we were wiping our plates clean Kev arrived, we chewed the fat for an hour or so before getting back down to the business of bird photography.

During the day we swapped around and took our turn in the different hides, the weather was OK and I was really pleased with some of the images I managed with my new 300mm lens. The males seemed to be the bolder birds, they got use to the hides very quickly and would perch up a lot around the box. Although the females still made regular feeding visits they didn't hand around and pose like the males.

Pied Flycatcher (male).

And finally a female perched long enough for an image too!

Many thanks to Mick & Kev, you guys looked after us very well.........top blokes!


  1. Those images are absolutely beautiful, Paul! I was wondering if you'd made it there. The weather was dreadful here on the Thursday, but I see you swapped it to another day.

  2. Great shots Paul, well done.