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, 23 March 2013

Come rain or shine!

Earlier today Col and I were out again putting up yet more owl boxes. Now when the weather is as bad as it was this morning the best option surely is to stay at home? But oh no not us, we'd agreed earlier in the week that no matter how bad the conditions we were going to brave them. And as we thought the weather did turn out to be flipping awful, bitterly cold and sideways snow but we stuck to our guns and committed ourselves to the cause.........I think now somebody needs to seriously question our sanity!
Anyhow, after a bit of networking and meeting more very amenable local landowners permission was granted for the erection of the first box in a private barn (or hovel as it is locally known). If the conditions weren't enough for us to battle against we came upon another challenge almost immediately. Inside the barn it was flooded, eight inches of dirty sleety water mixed in with algae and cow poo! Neither of us fancied wading through that lot, especially as we both had the most inadequate of footwear on! As we pondered what to do it looked like a quick game of paper, scissors and stones was going to decide who the unfortunate one was going to be to risk the quagmire. But then I had a very rare moment if inspiration! I could reverse the Landrover into the barn and we could climb up onto the bonnet and then the roof, this would then put us at just the right level to secure the box. So that is what we did!!!
Landie in the barn.
We didn't have a lot of room to manoeuvre and the landie roof was very slippy but we got the job done.
Col with the new box in position.
We have high expectations for this box as a Barn Owl has been seen recently in the vicinity. I just hope all this effort will be worth it in the long run?
Box to let, come on owls!
The second box we put up was for Little Owls, this design is a relatively new one for us and only the second of this type we've put up. We will just have to wait and see if it is to the owls liking?
The new box and Col sporting his spiderman gloves!
We had done well for time with the box erecting, yes our hands were numb and noses glowing bright red but hey we didn't care! We then moved on to check out three Barn Owl boxes that were erected in barns near to where we were back in 2011, and did we get some great results!!
At the first box we chanced upon a roosting Bird in the barn, yeeeeees get in there site No 16!!! At the second site we again located another Barnie sheltering out of the blizzard, this was not a new site though as I'd saw a bird here back in January although it was good to see it was still about and using the box. And the third and final box we checked out another Barnie was located roosting in the rafters, and that was another yeeeeeeeeees at it too was another new site, get in there site No 17! 
The final task of the day before we could get back and have a very welcome cup of tea was to set up the "Bushnell Trophy Cam". This is a brilliant bit of kit that my mate Adie has very generously lent me. It is a movement sensing camera/video recorder, and as can be seen in the image below I positioned it up high in the rafters of a barn facing one of our boxes. I have seen a Barn Owl in this building before but I am not sure whether or not it is using the box?
Rid - positioning the camera.
Weather and time allowing I will return to collect the Trophy Cam tomorrow and fingers crossed I will have captured some footage of the owl, and maybe confirmation that it is using the box.......................more of that later folks!


  1. A good mornings work mate,time now 8.30pm just thawed out............lol

    1. Time now........Sunday and 36 hours later and still I haven't warmed up!!!

  2. There's a thin line between dedication and fanaticism - not sure if you crossed it here!

    Seriously though, I totally admire the dedication of you and your small band of helpers. Congratualtions on a well-deserved licence, and best wishes for great results.

    Looking forward to hearing/seeing how you got on with the Trophy Cam. Looks like an amazing bit of kit, but comments on t'interweb about shutter lag and animals being half out of the frame before it fires make me wonder if it will capture a moving bird.

    1. I think complete bonkers is the word you were looking for Richard, you were just too polite to use it!!!

  3. A CBE at the very least for services to amber list species, and for allowing people to climb on your car - nobody would be allowed to climb on my Jeep!

    1. Forget the CBC mate, a cup of tea at the time would have been far more welcome!