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, 20 April 2013

Its getting otter!!!

It has been a very good and really busy week, and for a variety of reasons really. We now have good light levels before AND after work which means if one can be bothered there are opportunities to be had at each end of the day, and I have taken them! I have had some superb encounters and consequently have fallen behind with posting what I have been up to and seen, so this is a brief catch up with a few accompanying images.
One of my work customers (who has an interest in owls) had told me on a couple of occasions that he was regally seeing a Barn Owl on his way to work. Because at the time I thought the location was nearer to my mate Richard I rang him and revealed the whereabouts, he made a visit the next morning and even though the light levels were poor he got some great results. This spurred me to make a visit myself the following morning before work. I was due to meet a supplier at 8.30am so in order to get out on location, find the owl, get some images and then return before getting ready I had to leave out early!! I set off at 5.0am and just before 6.30am the owl was finally located, but it was distant! As I hung around keeping a watchful eye on its movements the light did start to improve but then it started to rain, dooough!! My time was running out as I'd calculated that 7.00am was the latest I dare leave it before having to make my way home. At 7.10 I was still there and chancing my luck, but the tight time scales were worth it as the owl made a nearish swoop over the hedgerow and then landed on the side of it. 
Still at a high ISO and distant but my first images of this new bird at a new site! It was well worth the early morning start and after a quick dash back I still made my meeting on time.

Because the weather has improved the recent soggy ground has started to dry and now I can take the Landie into areas that possibly haven't been visited for over 7 months. One such area holds my Little Owl site No 22. Viewing of these birds (if they were still there?) is only possible from a hide (following a lengthy wait) or reasonably quickly from my Landrover. The owls here get quite use to the farm machinery going past them at a snails pace and they tend to be ignored. So I employed the slow approach in the Landie and hey ho the owls were still there! However, when I pulled up adjacent to the tree and stopped the engine they became suspicious. The pair of them were watching intently, a great time to capture an image as they both looked in my direction.  

A couple of evenings during the week have been spent looking for Barn Owls, not just for new ones but also re-visits to areas where birds have already been seen this year. In one such area I have been seeing two different birds although at the time I didn't realise it? I'd managed to capture some flight images in good light of "the bird" a few weeks ago but then on a following visit I managed another image at the same location albeit very blurred and out of focus. The strange thing was although it was a terrible image it clearly showed the bird had a ring on its left leg and it was only then that I realised there were two birds!
Since this incident I haven't seen an owl in this area, I was hoping that it was down to the owls reverting to their more nocturnal ways rather than anything more sinister happening! Well there was nothing to worry about, in the week I caught up with the "ringed" bird and managed my first in focus images of it. The images were taken late in the day, 8.19pm to be exact, hand held and at a very high ISO shot out of the car window. I am very please with the results considering the conditions, and this individual shouldn't be too difficult to identify in the future as it has a very "grey" colouration to its feathers on its back.

And then I come to my absolute highlight of the week, if not the year! Some of you may of thought that the heading to this post was a spelling mistake, but now you will realise differently. After years of being in the right place at the right time (or so I thought?) I'd never seen one! I've spoken to many local people who'd had an encounter so I knew they were about. I am taking about a wild Otter, I had my very first glimpse and managed a few shots of it too! t was a very brief encounter as it swan from right to left across me, it paused for a second or two under a bridge and then it was gone!! But I now have the images and the memories from this brilliant a very rare encounter.

That's a quick catch up folks, I guess I am going to be in for another busy "owling" weekend and if I manage to capture anything of note be assured it will soon be posted on here.

Have a great weekend all!


  1. You're going to find it hard to top that amazing week Paul! POTW, an Otter (brilliantly photographed!), and some absolutely stunning owl images to boot.

    I hope your weekend continues at such an exciting level.

  2. The nearest I've come to finding an Otter locally was finding Otter spraint (poo) on a rock in the middle of the River Sour on a regular basis. As Richard says your going to find that week difficult to top, but I hope you do.

    1. Yes a week to remember, just glad I managed some images to make my memories more vivid. Cheers Carl.