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!!!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Catching Up, two new sites......

My apologies (again) for the lack of recent posts, images and replies to comments that you good folk have left me. This enforced hibernation period isn't because I am still in a "lazy can't be bothered mode" or even from a lack of interest on my behalf. Actually I have been going out but just not able to update this website because of some conflict between Blogger and Internet explorer 9. I haven't changed any of my settings so why I have been having so many problems with various different aspects of it I just don't know??
Anyway, after hours of pulling my hair out and very nearly throwing my PC out of the window I think it is all now back up and running. I have had to resort to changing my web browser over from Internet Explorer to Firefox, certainly different and the jury is still out at the moment on whether or not I like it, but at least it has got me back up and running. To be fair there is not normally much to post about at this time of year anyway as it tends to be very quiet whilst all the owls are incubating their eggs. The lull will soon be over though when the frenzy of feeding starts and with a bit of luck and good weather some excellent viewing will be on the cards.

During the last week or so I have ventured out on a number of occasions, mostly checking on breeding sites/boxes. And whilst out I have stumbled across two new Little Owl sites bringing the overall tally to 233.

The first of the new sites was actually a referral from one of my mates, we were down the pub having a few beers when he casually dropped it out about a sighting he made a few years ago. I drilled him for as much info as I could and the next evening I went off to investigate. His memory was pretty good too as almost everything he could remember about the location was bang on! And he remembered the nest tree was on a busy road, which made it very dodgy to check out let alone get an image.

I did a couple of slowish drive passes of the tree and amazingly there catching the late evening sun was a pair of Little Owls. The only plan I could muster up was to get all the camera gear ready and to have the passenger window open. I then did another drive by at the pace the volume of traffic dictated, I then stopped  for a matter of seconds and my "record" shot was grabbed much to the annoyance of the irate driver behind me!

Little Owl Site No 232
The second of my new sites was a real chance encounter, I was cruising along the back lanes in between two different known sites. I slowed up for a passing horse rider and whilst waiting for the attractive young lady to trot past me I was giving an "owly" looking tree the once over (a few years ago my eyes wouldn't have moved off the horsewoman, ya can't beat a nice pair of jodhpurs!) anyway there in the tree looking straight back at me was a Little Owl! 

I was soon parked up with my camo netting at the window and got some nice views of the bird. The light levels were good but not from a favourable direction, an early morning site this one!

The owl then started to call frantically, this confirmed to me that I was observing a male bird. Another owl could be heard calling too but I wasn't able to locate where it was? 

I predicted that it was about to take off, so I quickly pre-focused on a small branch a little nearer to me and then switched over to manual focus, my aim was to capture it coming at me head on in flight.

I have tried this method on many occasions and it usually ends up with the image being a load of rubbish and then deleted. The depth of field where the birds eyes are in focus is so narrow (literally millimetres) even with increasing the F stop it is still very rare to get a "usable" result.

After taking flight he then posed on a couple of different perches before going up higher in the tree where he was joined by his mate.

A super encounter and I'm sure some improved images will be attained on my next visit which will be on a bright sunny morning.


  1. As ever Paul stunning images, not sure how you're going to improve on them, my favourite has to be that flight shot definately the hardest bird to catch in flight.
    As for IE9 have checked (via Blogger dashboard)their forum etc to see if anyone is getting the same problem, if not post a comment on there for help, though it has to be said I dumped IE for Firefox and while it took some adjusting I do rate it above IE.

    1. Doug I've been on and off the IE forums for the last week or so and nothing? It was a last desperate measure trying Firefox and it worked!! Like you say it is going to take me some getting use to which is not good for an old bugger like me!
      Cheers mate!

  2. Cracking flight image, Paul. Lovely wing shape.

    1. To be honest Christian I didn't notice or appreciate the wing shape until you mentioned it and yes I agree it is rather nice.
      Cheers buddy!