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!!!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

What a whimp!

It is now getting too dark for photography after work, at this time of year I am limited to weekends & holidays only. But not to worry as it is now the time for more groundwork and networking with the local farmers and landowners. In previous years I have found that if the graft is put in now looking for owl activity in new areas I generally get rewarded come the spring. 
 
So after gaining access permission from several different landowners this evening I went to investigate some old/derelict farm buildings in search of Barn Owl activity. And what a productive couple of hours it turned out to be, no fewer than 4 new owl sites were located, yes you read right.....FOUR!!

I was in the area of Kilby, Arnesby and Fleckney and the tally brakes down to 3 new Little Owl sites and 1 Barn Owl. All three of the Little Owls were located in the old/derelict barns whilst looking for Barn Owls and ironically the last new site, a Barn Owl was located whilst searching for Little Owls, how mad is that? 
 
The first Little Owl of the evening was spotted sitting on top of the barn that I was checking out for Barn Owls, no signs of Barn Owls but never the less this was a superb consolation prize. The light was just holding on at the time and with the ISO pushed up I managed this image before it flew off. Get in there new site 216!!
 
 
The circumstances of locating the next two Little Owl sites was almost identical to the first, I was creeping about in the buildings looking for Barn Owl pellets when I accidentally flushed them from their hiding places. If they had held their nerve and just stayed put I don't think they would have been seen?  But hey I'm not complaining they were new sites 217 & 218 in the bag, yeeeeees. The third Little Owl site also had fresh Barn Owl pellets on the floor so a breeding box will soon be made and erected there.
 
Sadly I had another two locations that I wanted to check out but I was beaten by the light, there is no way I was going to be fumbling around in the dark in an old barn so they will have to wait until another day.
 
On my way home I decided to stop off at a know Little Owl site to see if they were showing or rather calling. They were and I could hear up to four different birds. I got chatting to the farmer about the owls when he casually dropped it out that he had seen a Barn Owl hunting over the different areas of rough pasture during the last few nights.......WHAT!!!  Because of the nature of the farmyard layout it was difficult to see the several different "hunting areas" at once and because it was dark all hope of seeing the owl was lost.......or was it?
 
He suggested I clamber up on top of the adjacent water tower and from there I would be able to see the different hunting areas. And to aid my viewing the scattered spotlights that were around the farm were all turned on, what a good bloke! Now I absolutely detest heights at the best of times and normally I wouldn't have gone up this tower, not even for money. But the cause was a good one so my fear had to be put to one side for a few minutes and up I went. Bloody hell, it was high, a good job it was dark because I don't think I got the true perspective of being 60 foot in the air!
 
I was holding on to the railings for dear life, not really daring to move and then whoosh, a Barn Owl flew past. Superb another new location and a nesting box will be in situ very soon. Quite surreal seeing it flying about 20 foot above the ground yet it was still miles below me. Obviously no images were obtained because it was too dark, it wouldn't have mattered though if it was brilliant sunlight there was no way I was letting go of the railings!
 
Maybe I'll be braver next time..................not a chance!

10 comments:

  1. This really sounds like a fun time. I had an experience like this recently at night. It was the most amazing thing....a Great Horned Owl hover glided across my head and it was incredible. Beautiful!

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    1. Now that sounds like a fab experience Rohrerbot.

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  2. Wow Paul, that was some evening! Congratulations!

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    1. Cheers buddy, I still get that buzz when a new site is located, no doubt you know what I am on about.

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  3. It seems despite the wet weather Barnies have done ok this year, look forward to hopefully seeing some images Paul

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    1. And I am hoping to post some more images Doug......time will tell?

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  4. No wonder you don't go up the bloody ladder..............lol

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    1. Oh dam my fear of heights is now out in the open. I have another fear that is even worse, paying for beer, hope you can help me out with that one too Col?

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  5. Great site! No--- sorry Fantastic site
    Sorry if I missed it, but is there any dimensions for the little owl boxes

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    1. Hi John, thanks for your kind words.
      Yes you did miss the Little Owl box dimensions.
      But not to worry, if you go down to the bottom of my blog, and locate the "quick links" on the right handside. Click on Little Owl nest box and it will take you back to a post named "Birdfair 2010". At the bottom of that post is a link to the "standard" Little Owl nest box.

      Hope that helps?

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