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, 4 November 2012

Black Sunday.

Around a week or so ago I discovered some new Barn Owl activity in a couple of local derelict buildings, that was it I was compelled to make some more boxes and get them erected as soon as possible.
It was arranged with my buddy Carl for the two of us to get cracking straight away and last Tuesday night we got on with the task in hand of making two more boxes. Luckily Carl has a huge workshop (see image below) that lends itself perfectly for a bit of wood chopping and nail whacking.
But before Carl could even think of box making his stomach had to come first! I wasn't going to argue with him so it was a pie and chip supper before the work started. 
After we had both filled our faces the work commenced.
It wasn't long before we had two identical box frames made.
The panelled walls and landing platforms we soon in situ, nothing too fancy with these boxes like sloping roofs and baffled compartments, they don't need to be weather and wind proof because they are going to be situated inside buildings. 
I have added this next image just to wind Carl up, he wasn't aware at the time but when he went off to make a cup of tea I had a sneaky fag. On purpose I stood next to his NO SMOKING SIGN and took the picture in the mirror that hangs on the door.........sorry mate, please don't ban me!
The next part of the plan was to get another mate, Col Green to help in putting the boxes up in the derelict buildings today (Sunday).  But my professional box putter-upper called me late on Saturday night to ask for a rain check? He wasn't able to make Sunday morning because of some feeble excuse about being up since 2.00am. He'd driven to Scotland and back to see a poxy warbler, a round trip of over 700 miles, mad or what?
So my plans for putting the boxes up had been scuppered, what to do now? The weather was atrocious so any owling was out of the question, then just as I was contemplating my next move a text message came in from LROS (Leicester & Rutland Ornithology Society). A Black Throated Diver was at Stamford Reservoir, a good county bird so I thought what the hell I'd not got anything better to do, let's go and have a look. 
Upon arrival a couple of local birders were already there, but the Diver wasn't! Whilst they continued to scan the vastness of the reservoir for a sighting I opted to go and have a look in the small settling pool across the road, and bingo there it was! A quick dash back to the car for my camera and luckily on my return it was still there. I rattled off a few shots, and this image below was just about the best of a bad bunch, low light and torrential rain wasn't helpful. Again I made the mistake of having my 300mm lens and not my 500 with me, but even after being heavily cropped it is still by far the best image of this species I ever managed, so it's going on my blog.
I did return later in the day but wasn't able to relocate the Diver, not to worry though as the weather was still terrible. Hopefully it will hang around and when the weather improves I will go and try again.


  1. Nice pic mate So Sunday was'nt a waste of time.

    1. Yes in the end all was well Col, but that doesn't matter as breakfast is still on you next Sunday!

  2. Ah, a Leicester record, depends on what side the bird was swimming on, could be a Northants record..joke. The rain pelting off the surface sums up the weather perfectly. Great bird.

    1. It was only on the Leicester side mate!!!!!

  3. Aye, I saw your image on Mikes site, well done :) Though Hooded birders account of running from one side to the other so he can have both a Leics and Northants "tick" made me chuckle

  4. Nice Diver pic. Great stuff you lads building those boxes.

  5. Could have sworn that I'd already left a comment on this post - must be losing it! Great work with those boxes Paul. Here's hoping for great results. Nice image of the diver - was it a Leics or Northants tick for you, or did you do a Hoodie?!@