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!!!

Monday, 19 August 2013

I almost forgot!

Sorry but there's no owling activity to report on from this last weekend, Saturday was taken up travelling up the M1 to watch the mighty "Foxes" (Leicester City FC) play the "Rams" (Derby County FC). It was a woefully scrappy game and to be fair neither team deserved to win, but with a less than convincing display we amazingly won 1-0, get in there!!!! And Sunday was taken up with a visit to this years "Birdfair" at Rutland Water. It was OK but not a lot different to the last few years so maybe I'll give the next one a miss? It was good to catch up with a few friends and "chew the fat" for a while, with reflection the best part of the day was the full English fry up we had at the roadside cafe on the way!

This now brings me around to the title of this post "I forgot", with all the excitement leading up to my visit to Mull I totally overlooked doing an update on a couple of local owl encounters before I went. The first was a few weeks ago when John and I were in a local pub garden enjoying the evening sunshine with a couple of pints of the local brew. Whilst we sat there supping away and getting tanned we heard the call of a Little Owl come from the horse paddock behind the garden.

This image (below) gives an idea of the view from the pub garden, it didn't take us long before we located the owl, can you see it? 

Nest tree site No 234
We then watched the story unfolded before us, there was a pair of adult owls that were busily grubbing around for food in the grassy field. They would then fly up high to the large crack that can be seen in the main trunk of the large tree, it was here that we saw at least one juvenile poke its head out whilst being fed!

Whilst we continued to watch the birds (with another pint of beer of course) we noticed that one of the owls kept landing on a fence at the far end of the paddock. As I wanted to try and grab a "better" image I went and re-positioned myself in the long grass and waited. After a 45 minute wait (and 2 more pints)  one of the owls played its part and landed on the far end of the fence. I waited for it to come closer but it was no fool, even though I thought I was well concealed it could see me and this next image was the best I managed.

One of the adult owls, site No 234
The second encounter was with my third local Tawny Owl site that I have found this summer, I chanced upon them one evening when I was checking out a Little Owl site. They gave their presence away when they started to hoot. At the time it was far too dark to grab an image but I made a mental note of the perches that they seemed to prefer. I then re-visited a few days later when it was still light and just as I hoped there on one of the same branches as before was perched a Tawny Owl.

As they sat together they were partially obscured by some over hanging branches, I'd like to have got a better view and an image of them perched side by side but I didn't dare get out of my car for fear of spooking them. Instead I had to make do with the limited aperture of the car window to shoot from, one of them (presumably the male?) then flew to the next tree along in the spinney. It settled in an opening in the canopy on a far more photogenic branch, it still wasn't easy to see from the car but I managed to contort myself into a very awkward position whilst shooting upwards out of the open rear window.

I had a very memorable hour with these birds and managed to get some images from slightly different angles as they moved about in the trees beside the car. It was quite dark in the shade of the trees and in order to get the correct exposure for the birds it made for a horrible "white sky" behind them, dough!!.

There has been no "trickery" in Photoshop with this next image, nothing added or taken away! This is just how it was perched on that bare leafless branch although I do admit myself it looks a bit false.  

After a while I noticed that when one of the owls flew between two favoured perches it had to dodge a lot of overgrown foliage, in doing this it was channelled into roughly the same spot each time. Because I'd already grabbed a few portrait shots I'd got nothing to lose by attempting a flypast image. As I said the light was terrible for motionless photography let alone any action shots so the ISO was set very high in order for me to get a shutter speed that would enable a freezing of the action.

So that is it now, I think I am right up to date with all the recent owl activities. If I get time during the week I may venture out again one evening, although I'm not sure where yet??? Maybe I'll re-visit my newest Little Owl site No 234 again, I quite liked it watching owls whilst supping beer, the perfect combination!!


  1. Some really nice images of the Tawny Owl. I like the one of the Little Owl too because it really indicates how small they are.

  2. Them Tawny's are brilliant Paul, well done