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, 28 March 2014

Box maintenance.

Not much to report on from the last week or so, I have been dedicating what free time I've had to checking out my owl nest boxes. Col and have have decided that for the foreseeable future we are going to concentrate on box repairs and maintenance rather than putting up more new ones. Although the majority of boxes we already have up are in fair condition there are a number that are starting to rot on the roof. Luckily we recently acquired some old slate (from a derelict barn) and this is now being used as extra protection and should extend the life of the boxes considerably. Here below is the "team" including the two new recruits, Joe my son and Patch the Labrador doing the slate collection.

Here below is a typical example of what one of the boxes looks like once it has had its retrofit slate roof fitted. The two pieces of slate fit perfectly on top of one and other without the need to trim down the size. It is secured in position with silicon and should give the extra protection and longevity we are looking for.

Part of the box maintenance procedure is to check out the inside for any signs of owl activity or if any unwelcome squatters have moved in. It appears that other critters apart from owls have taken a liking to our boxes with Jackdaws and Squirrels being the main culprits. Here in this image below Col can be seen clearing out an old Jackdaw nest.  It is a very dirty task and precautions must be taken so as not to inhale the dust, I think that Col just likes being a gimp!!!

Hannibal Lecter????
During this particular weekend we had to clear out five separate boxes, two from Jackdaws and three from Squirrels. But on a positive note we came across pairs of Little Owls roosting in three separate boxes and the icing on the cake was a pair of Barn Owls roosting in another.

Whilst out one evening I managed to locate another Tawny Owl site, it was almost dark when this image was taken (which has effected the quality somewhat) but I was pleased to have captured a record shot of it. I don't know yet whether this is a roosting or breeding site, I do hope the latter.  I guess time will tell as I will be keeping an eye on it from now on.

New Tawny Owl site?

And of course no post would be complete without a couple of Little Owl images, would it? On our travels several birds were seen out and about. These two separate birds were encountered, both not too far from our nest boxes!

The next few weekends (and evenings where possible) will be spent checking out yet more boxes, we have well over a hundred up now! But time is definitely against us as the breeding season will soon be with us again. 

And finally, and as a reminder of the up and coming breeding season I will leave you with this last image of a juvenile Little Owl hiding behind a log. I have just found it on an old memory card and really like it as it's different. It was taken a couple of years ago and from memory I don't think it was ever posted on my blog so here it is.

Thanks for stopping by, see you all again soon..........


  1. Love the new header mate.....................

  2. great image of the juv and top work with the boxes. Keep it up.... PS - Nice looking Landie, I'm jealous...

    1. You wouldn't like the costs of running the Landie though Simon, thanks for your comment.

  3. As usual brilliant images Paul but the last one hiding behind the tree is my favourite as it gives a hint of the birds character.
    I reckon the slate roofs are a great idea, it may help to keep the nest box inside a little cooler during really hot days and make it a little more waterproof too, well done all.

    1. We think the slate roof will add years to the life of the boxes, and cooler too like you say. Cheers Doug.

  4. Pleased to hear that you're still finding time for the photography, with all that maintenance to be done, Paul. Best wishes to the team, and congratulations to you all on a very worthwhile job - Well done!

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