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!!!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The great fightback.

Grey, gloomy and very gusty best fits the weather conditions I was met with this morning, not conducive at all for seeing owls let alone any images!
Come rain or shine I wasn't going to give up though, I felt compelled to get out there and at least try, well what else are Sunday's for?
It was a pretty good start too, the very first site I visited had a Little Owl sitting out on a post, superb a 100% hit rate. I watched and waited for it come closer (nearer to the nest tree) but it didn't, it seemed quite content sheltering out of the wind where it was. I had to make do with this distant image, but never mind it was 1-0 to me!

During the next hour four more known sites were visited and nothing was seen, how quickly things turn around, it was now 4-1 to the owls!
I needed miracle if I was going to turns things around, I headed to a very reliable site near to the village of Fleckney. There was no waiting around here, as I approached the nest tree there was an owl hanging out of the nest entrance, oh yes in the back of the net, 4-2.

The said owl then disappeared back inside the tree, only for it to re-appear at another hole, and with it was its mate, yes the Riddler is fighting back 4-3!

After the Fleckney birds helped with my tally another "safe" site was visited. A 30 minute vigil proved fruitless......the owls were now pulling away from me again 5-3. 
I now found myself not far from an area I'd not checked out before, permission was granted last week by the land owner whilst I was out "networking". He told that he had seen an owl sitting out on a low down post but wasn't sure what species of owl it was? Mmmmm, sounded very characteristic of a Little Owl to me so I thought I'd go and check out the area for myself.
It was quite vague in my memory the exact details of the location, well I have had a few pints since then! I turned into the gate way he mentioned and pulled up. I checked out the area and there only seemed to be one tree that gave me the jizz of Little Owl. I checked it out from distance and BINGO two Little Owls were sitting side by side quite high up in the tree, I couldn't believe my luck, it was the equaliser 5-5! I grabbed a record shot of the pair (below) before I opted to move closer. 

As I approached they both flew off, luckily I kept my eye on one of them and saw it fly into a small group of fruit trees in the corner of the field, so I drove down to them and pulled up. It took me five minutes but I did relocated the owl, there was a lot of foliage in the way so I had to revert to manual focusing before I could get an image. Not the best of quality I know but who cares when it was another new site, get in there No 219!

Well that was my mornings owling finished, it was time to head back and I was feeling quite smug that I'd managed to pull the score back to 5-5 after being so far behind, especially considering the weather conditions.
I chose to take a back lane home as it passed a location where I'd seen a Barn Owl out hunting only a few evenings ago. I knew it would be a long shot seeing it again this early in the day but judging how my luck was going I'd got nothing to lose.
I pulled up adjacent to the rough pasture where it was most likely to see the Barn Owl and started scanning the fields. Nothing was about apart from hundreds of Fieldfare's feeding on berries in the roadside Hawthorne's.  I re-positioned the car in a gateway in an attempt to get a few Fieldfare images, but before that I just gave the tree next to me the once over. And you are not going to believe it, sat there looking back at me was a LITTLE OWL!!!!! No more than 20 feet away and huddled up out of the wind. A quick burst of six shots were rattled off before it fled along the lane and high up into the next tree.

After reviewing the image it looks like an adult bird to me and not a dispersing juvenile, therefore it will become my site No 220.........and it also made it 6-5 to me for the day..........YES!!!!!


  1. I bet you didn't even have time to stop for half time oranges. Great stuff !

  2. Cracking stuff as ever.
    Wonder what effect this ash dieback fungus that seems to have landed in the UK will have on Little (and other) Owl populations... Really hope and pray it doesn't take hold in the UK.

    1. I have only just heard about it? It could be a disaster!

  3. Hah and you didn't even need the refs help, nice day by the looks of things.

  4. great post and images, you do really well with the owls, impressive stuff.

  5. Better than city's result,well done mate

    1. Don't mention that shower of shite Col.