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, 6 January 2013

Owlometer kicks into life!

Saturday morning was spent flitting around various Little Owl sites to see if they still had any occupancy in readiness for the breeding season in the spring. But before any monitoring could commence I paid a visit to my Jay feeding site to top it up with a handful of peanuts and set up my hide. A return was planned later in the day and hopefully by then a few birds would be coming to the free offerings and some image opportunities would be available?
 
Apart from the brief Little Owl encounter I had on new years day at my site No 6 (see previous post) my running tally for the year was 1 bird from 1 site! Now this is a pretty poor return considering we are fast approaching the end of the first week of 2013. As this tally gathers momentum I will keep an update as to how many Little Owls I have been seen and from how many sites on my "Owlometer" this can be seen on the right hand side of this blog. 
 
Also this year I am going to be keeping and updating a second owlometer for Barn Owls, this species numbers have been quite sparse in recent years but things are starting to change! Judging by the amount of sightings that I have already made this year it appears that my nest box programme is improving the numbers somewhat. Whether through design or by default I have already seen single Barn Owls at three totally different locations, that is already only one less than the whole of last years total! The Barn Owl by nature wanders/hunts across a much wider area than the Little Owl and therefore cross over sightings are inevitable and monitoring exact numbers becomes far more difficult. But if I keep a record I am sure that once their territories have been established things will sort themselves out?
 
So after the quick stop off at the Jay station I got on with the task in hand of finding some Little Owls. In total I managed to visit fifteen known territories, they didn't all offer a viewing but by the time I'd finished 10 different birds were seen across 7 different sites. The photo opportunities were somewhat limited as most of the birds were just "dots in the distance". I did however managed a couple of shots (below) of the "closer" birds but these were still too far away to achieve any quality. I'm sure if I'd of hung around longer improved images would have been on the cards but as time was of the essence I wasn't prepared to hang around and wait for them!
 
A distant sighting was made at my site No 95.

Site No 217, another distant owl!
On the way back home I popped in to the Jay feeding station, a three hour vigil from the hide only produced two separate and very fleeting visits from the birds, I think they were nervous of the hide?



It was absolutely freezing in the hide so rather than sit there shivering like a dog in a wet sack I called it a day. The warmth of the car was bloody lovely, so I just drove around for an hour or so just to get the blood flowing again, and I'm glad I did! As I was driving through one of the villages on the way home whooosh, a Barn Owl flew across the road right in front of me! It was a new bird in a new area and no where near any of my previously seen sites for this year, so that not equals my sightings for the whole of 2012!

12 comments:

  1. Great sightings and love the jay photos!

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    1. Thank you Sharon, better to come hopefully when the light improves?

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  2. Nice to see the Owlometer gearing up !
    Like the LO pics in the Yew & Scots Pine

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  3. Good luck with the Lowlometer and the Bowlometer. HNY Rid.

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  4. That's a pretty impressive start Paul. I'm still stuck on two sightings of one LO. Planned to go out today, but foggy all morning. It lifted this afternoon, but stayed very dull here. Maybe tomorrow??

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    1. I am sure it won't be long before your numbers improve mate, along with the weather!

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  5. I've no doubt it's as a result of your work on the Barn Owl boxes, Paul. Well done.

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    1. Cheque arrived yesterday mate, calendar will be posted tomorrow.....thank you!

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  6. I really like the way the Little owl is perched right on the edge of the broken stump. From Findlay

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    1. Thanks for your comment Findlay, I quite like it too!

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