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, 11 November 2012

Birding Week - Sunday

After a curry and a load of beer last night this morning was never going to be an early start, or so I thought? Col was due to be picking me up at 9.30am, we had four more owl boxes to put up today. So when I rose at about 7.30am my head was pounding, it was OK though as I still had a couple of hours to wake up properly before our work commenced. A nice hot cup of tea and a couple of paracetamols was what was needed to kick start the repair job of last nights alcohol abuse!
I was sitting supping my cuppa and happen to glance out of the window, we'd had a good overnight frost but the sun was rising in the clear skies and although cold it looked as though it was going to be a beautiful and bright autumnal day. I glanced up into the Rowen Tree in the front garden and it was alive with birds, they were busily gorging themselves on what remained of this years berry crop. Normally I'd have ignored all the commotion in the tree but because I am having a bit of a "birding week" I thought I'd make an effort and get the camera out. I was hoping for a Waxwing to be among the feeding Tits, Finches and Thrushes but no such luck! There was also a couple of Starlings, now this is a species that I would normally overlook but when they are feeding 15 feet from you and in good light too how could I turn down the chance?  I went upstairs and grabbed an image out of the bedroom window, and I am glad I did, what a gorgeous bird. 

The Starlings didn't hang around too long, I think the noise of the camera shutter spooked them? I then saw another small finch sized bird fly in, it was obscured by some twigs but there was no doubt what it was, a Lesser Redpoll!!

This is the first time I have ever seen a Redpoll in my garden, what a shame I couldn't hang around longer and wait for its return and a better image, the reason........Col was here an he was an hour early!!! I greeted him at the front door still in my dressing gown! After a bit of abuse from him it turns out I rang him last night and brought forward our meeting time an hour, I'd had too much beer and didn't remember?
After another quick cuppa we were soon on our way via a quick stop off at Carl's to pick up the boxes, oh and another cup of tea!
At the first site one of the larger boxes was up in a matter of minutes, I never seen a Barn Owl here or any evidence of them but this remote location is only a mile from where a pair of Barn Owls have raised seven young this year, so hopefully there will be residents in the coming months?

It is a very quiet complex of around a dozen old buildings and some of them are quite large, see image below. It just oozes Barn Owl and if a pair don't move in here within a year I will eat my hat!

The second site we decided to put up one of the smaller Barn Owl boxes, yet another good looking site with plenty of potential. Col was happy with the site too. 

Apparently the owner of this barn sees Little Owls around it on a regular basis, I've never seen one here so it will be on my "hit list" for a re-visit very soon.

At the third site we put up another of the larger boxes, I didn't take a photo because I accidentally left my camera in Col's van and it was too far to walk back to fetch it, yes I am an idle so and so!  We did see a Little Owl in the barn where we put up the box so there will soon be a box up for that too.
At the last and fourth site of the day the local land owner has been seeing a single Barn Owl hunting around the farm almost every night for the past month. He told us to go and have a look around all the buildings and put the box up where every we wanted, a nice guy! In the furthest building from the farmhouse we found two fresh owl pellets on a stack of straw, obviously this was selected as the site for the box.
It wasn't until the farmer wandered down to see how we were getting on that he informed us that his teenage son plays in a rock band and this building is where he practises!!! We needed a change of plan quick, good job we hadn't already put it up! So more buildings were investigated and we selected one that the farmer told us no one ever goes in, it was perfect. 

As I was writing up this post I had a call from the farmer at the last site we went to, he was very excited as this evening for the first time he'd got two Barn Owls hunting around his farm, looks like we got the box up just in time?

Not sure yet what I am up to tomorrow or even where I am going? I think it depends on how much beer I have tonight!!!


  1. Lovely image of a Starling Paul. We had our first garden Redpoll of the winter on Friday. I've not seen it back again yet, so maybe they're just passing through at this time. Keep up the good work with the boxes!

  2. Love the starling - yes an often overlooked bird - I get a lot in my garden and they are stunning birds up close when the light is showing all the colours in their feathers

    1. Yes superb birds, even better in good light, oh welcome to my blog Sharon! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Great Starling shot Paul, very colourful bird

  4. Good news mate two Barn Owls at site four fingers crossed
    Great header by the way

  5. Cheers Col, Oh by the way you forgot to buy me breakfast!!! Thanks for your help buddy.

  6. Yeh sorry about that probably next time mate.....................not..... Enjoyed it has usual