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!!!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Dusk Patrol.

Late yesterday I managed to get out for an hour, although late in the day and not good for photography dusk is definitely a great time to catch a glimpse of an owl. At this time of year when the trees have no leaves on them (unless it's an evergreen of course!) spotting the silhouette of a perched up owl isn't too difficult.
It is also the time of day (and year) when they become more vocal, prior to the breeding season the male birds are establishing their territories and at dusk their call can easily give their presence away.
I was checking out a site near to the village of Sharnford, I'd been watching the nest tree hoping for my first sighting of the year at this location. Nothing was seen, then as the light faded I heard the male owl calling, he was in a different tree to the one I'd been watching! Although distant I did managed to get an image (below), can you see him?

At the second site a pair was located perched up in their nest tree, again their presence was given up when the male owl called. These birds were a little harder to locate as their plumage blended in perfectly with the surrounding foliage, can you see them? 

Then the hen bird came closer as she flew into a nearby tree, quickly followed by the male. He seemed excitable, he was dancing around whilst making a strange "clicking noise". I'd seen this behaviour before, I knew what was coming next.
She then seemed to surrender to him, bowed forward and started twisting from side to side. In a flash he mounted her and mating then commenced. It was all over in a matter of seconds as in the heat of passion they both fell from the branch! 

On my way back Little Owls were seen at another two sites taking this years tally to 61 sightings across 31 different sites, still a long way to go until I hit my target of 100 occupied sites for the year.
Whilst on my way home I passed my site No 62, it was here that a single owl was seen perched up in a roadside tree. He didn't seem bothered one iota about me being parked up next to him with my camera poking out of the window. In order to attain this image (below) I had to manual focus and use the flash and still he didn't budge, I think they become far braver in the dark!  

The last call I made was to a Barn in Cosby as I wanted to check out another one of my boxes. As I entered the building out flew a Barn Owl, my 13th different location this year!!


  1. I'm looking at the female in the mating image she doesn't look to pleased with the attention of the male, could you tell it was succesful or not?

  2. A lovely use of the flash, Paul. Fell out of the tree - that's never happened to me! Perhaps I just don't have enough passion.