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!!!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Attentions turn to Little Owls

Last night I was drawn back out into the countryside and drove around the lanes in my Landrover in a desperate attempt to locate a Barn Owl. I am getting quite concerned now that there is a notable absence every where I look. I know of dead birds being found at several locations but now the weather is far milder than that of late and one would think they would be out hunting more regular?
I'd only been cruising around for 30 minutes when it started to rain, if all the recent snow wasn't enough for the Barn Owls to cope with now they were being hampered again! No doubt about it their fight for survival and weight gain sure is proving to be a major struggle this year. 
Instead of wasting more time looking for and finding Barnie's in the rain (not much chance of that!) I turned my attentions to Little Owls. They will tolerate the wet conditions much more readily so I went to see if I could re-locate the owl at my new site No 230 that was found two nights ago.
I positioned myself mid-way between the tree that the bird was seen in last time and a huge pile of old logs/branches that lay in the middle of the field. It is all very well me saying this now but at the time I would have bet good money that the pile of logs would be a magnet for the owl, they just love prominent perches where they can easily survey the general area. All the windows were blacked out and my camo scrim was up at the drivers window, I was ready for it to show, it was now a waiting game and a fight against the fading light and drizzle.

It was 7.01pm and the radio was turned on (obviously very quiet) as it helps to pass the time while waiting. After all the disturbance no activity was expected for a while so I made myself comfortable by spreading myself out on the front bench seat. At 7.15pm the first showing occurred, a lot earlier than I expected really and the light levels were still pretty reasonable. I don't know where it flew in from but it was exactly where I predicted (or hoped) it would be, on the highest branch in the pile of logs!

He was giving the Landrover the once over, I wasn't sure if the sound of the camera shutter had spooked him as he bobbed his head a couple of times and then flew off! There was no need for concern though, he was soon back only this time on a different and nearer perch. He was still bobbing and weaving, a little agitated and curious as to what was this "thing" was in the middle of his territory no doubt? 
Because the rain was driving straight at me and into the window the camera lens was getting soaked, I had no option but to move the Landrover. The new position offered a different angle of light and a variety of perches that weren't visible before. He was soon back checking me out again, this was the closest view I had, from only about 20 feet!

Again he flew off back to the tree, there was a gap of around 10 minutes before he returned and when he did he had company!! The light now was all but gone but I did manage to get an image of both of them together, the resultant image in colour was very grainy and washed out but converting it to monochrome (black & white) it is just about usable?

Because I'd managed a few images of them together I was now quite content just to sit back and watch their antics in the near dark. But at 8.00pm they started mating,  I just had to have a go at capturing the action. My only option was to manual focus and use the flash, (hence the red eyes) it didn't bother them one iota as they got on with the job! 

Please don't misunderstand me, I am not a voyeur of these kind of antics in the evenings, unless of course it is owls that I am watching!! 


  1. Wonderful wonderful wonderful. I am trying to get more owls, but the lighting is tricky. I just saw an Elf Owl.....that little bird guy is tiny!!!

  2. It just gets better and better! These images are a real achievement.