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, 2 February 2013

Off to Leire.

This morning (Saturday) the light levels were sublime, best yet so far this year I'd say? So not one for wasting a good photo opportunity I was out early to try and make the most of it. The forecast stated it was going to get quite breezy around mid morning so I needed to locate an obliging subject (an owl preferably) before the conditions worsened.
Thanks to Diana (a land owner in Leire) I'd got a couple of meetings/introductions arranged with a couple of her farmer friends. They had agreed to meet with me with a view to see if they had any potential for Barn Owl box locations on their respective land. Because my meeting were going to take place in the Leire area it seemed to make sense that I should head out that way and start my owl hunt.
I made a bee line to my site No 62, I hadn't visited this site for quite some time so getting re-acquainted with the owls here seemed a good plan. As on previous visits I pulled the car up on the roadside grass verge alongside a gap in the hedgerow. Its not a very big gap but there is space enough to look through onto a right juicy tree stump that is favoured by the owls here. My camo screen was up at the window, beanbag positioned over the door and my camera and lens were at the ready. A few quick images were taken of the stump and my setting were adjusted accordingly, all that was needed now was an owl perched on top of that sun drenched stump.
I had to wait around an hour (too many doggy walkers and horse riders going by) but finally my patience was rewarded with a very brief visit from one of the owls.

The owl seemed agitated, it didn't really settle properly and within seconds of its arrival it departed. I managed to capture an image of it just as it took off, not properly in focus but not far off!!

But it didn't go too far, it had settled on top of the recently cut hedgerow, it wasn't as  photogenic as the stump it was on previously but the compensating factor was it was now in full sun, ooooooh lovely!

Just as before it didn't stay perched up too long and I nearly nailed another take off shot, better focus this time but it helps if you keep all the bird in the frame, dooooh!

That was it, my close encounter with the owl was over as it didn't come close again whilst I was there. I then departed to have my meetings with the farmers, they went really well and they both allowed me to investigate some cracking isolated barns that look very owly indeed, all I need to do now is get the gang together and get the boxes up that we made last weekend, are you listening lads?


  1. Fantastic set of images Paul, I really like the header image flight shot and the first LO perched up on the lichen covered tree. Looks like you had a good result.

    1. Yeah I too like the lichen shot, would have been better I think if the light wasn't coming from the side! Thanks for your comment mate.

  2. it is not perfect .. where stands the owl to fly .. fantastic
    very nice (owls) portraits
    greetings Frank

  3. Excellent stuff Paul. I really love that first image! It was a bit breezy that day, but the owls didn't seem too bothered.

  4. They are more tolerant if it is a "warm" breeze, especially if the sun shines too!
    Cheers Richard.