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!!!

Monday, 18 February 2013


On reflection it was a pretty quiet weekend on the owling front, it was very spring like and the Mrs decided there was a pile of jobs that wanted doing in the garden, doooh! However, I did managed to sneak out for a couple of short trips on both Saturday and Sunday with the task in hand to check out more boxes.
On Saturday I visited Barn Owl nest box that I erected in an old building three years ago near to Lutterworth. On my last visit in late December 2012 I did find a couple of Barn Owl pellets below the box, these were cleared away so I could then monitor any activity on my next visit. And yes they are still visiting and presumably using the box because I found one hundred and thirty four pellets on the floor!!!  I collected up the pellets into a bucket because I have a couple of schools who use them for teaching purposes.
Barn Owl pellets, all 134 of them!
Wow, judging by the number this must mean that a pair of owls were in residence?  But oh no, as I was busily picking up the pellets a pair of Stock Doves flew from the box????? Stock Doves are fast becoming my arch enemy, they are too readily taking residence in my boxes and last year I had 17 pairs in them! I think that they bully the owls away so if anyone has any ideas on how I could deter the Doves and encourage the owls instead I would surely like to hear your ideas/suggestions?

In between doing my chores in and around the garden I found time to repair a Little Owl box. This box had been erected in a huge Oak Tree over near Lubbesthorpe. Towards the end of last year during a horrendous thunder storm the tree got hit by lightning and crashed to the ground. It had been smashed to smithereens but amazingly the box survived with only a few scratches on the front panel!

I tightened up all the screws and got it back to something near its original shape. It also had a fresh coat of paint and a nice new felt roof. It will be back up a tree very soon!

I'd be lying if I said I went all weekend without seeing an owl, of course I did, I saw plenty. But because I was suppose to be doing other things (like gardening) I didn't have time to wait for them to come close enough for an image.

Late on Saturday afternoon/early evening I was sent out to run an errand, as you never know what you may see whilst out I took my camera with me.....just in case?? I worked it out that I had just  enough time to pop into a site where recently we'd erected a couple of boxes. As I pulled into the farm yard there sat on the roof where a pair of Little Owls! This was an opportunity too good to miss, I knew I should have been somewhere else but I was prepared for the backlash of getting back late.

Up went the camo blind at the window and the camera was soon at the ready, the birds were very obliging considering my lack of available time.  It was a shame the  light was so bad but never the less I did manage to get my best ever images from this site.

I did get back late but whilst out the traffic was appalling, or at least that is my story and I am sticking to it.....but don't tell the Mrs!  


  1. You could stake out the sites, wearing a Dovecoat as camouflage, and blow a raspberry at then as they try to enter the box. Just a suggestion, though. That's what a Dovecoat is, right?

    1. Oh my god have you been on the beer Christian???? If you haven't then I would be very worried indeed! But if no better suggestion comes (could there be a crazier one?) then I guess I'll have to try getting a dove coat!

  2. The sock dove is an interesting observation. Before I buggered off to Jersey I noted how many just seemed to appear "overnight" at a couple of my spots, big flocks too up to twenty-thirty strong.
    Great images Paul.

    1. The reason why you are now seeing so many Stcok Doves Doug is because THEY ARE ALL BREEDING IN MY DAM BOXES and now there are so many of them they are spilling over into Northamptonshire!!!
      Thanks for your comment mate.

  3. I guess someone has sent all the Stock Doves from these parts over your way, as we never see them here. Other than Collared Doves and Woodpigeons, the only pigeons we see from, or in, the garden have been stray racing pigeons. Please don't send them back - it cost me a fortune to ship them south!!

  4. Oh yes they are all in and around my area mate, the word has got out that are loads of free to rent luxury appartments.....dam things!!!