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, 1 April 2014

Birding & Beer

Saturday morning had me out in the Landie before dawn, my target species was Tawny Owl. This particular site is not conductive for good photography because of the direction of the sun (straight at you) apart from that is at first light, hence the reason why I was in situ very early. 

The other reason why I was out very early was the small matter of sport......... Both the teams I follow (Leicester City FC & Leicester Tigers RFC) were being televised back to back on the television starting at midday. They were both massively important games that could well decide their respective fortunes for the rest of the season and I just couldn't miss them!

Once I was positioned up near the Tawny tree it was then a matter of waiting for a "show". Sadly the period of good light came and went and no owl was seen. Even though I'd missed the best light I was being treated to quite a show by a number of other species. To my left there was a small flock of circa 10 Tree Sparrows, never seen them here before, straight on was a Green Woodpecker that was busily tapping out a new nest entrance, over to my right a pair of Little Owls were calling & mating and behind me two Buzzards were making repeated visits to a tall tree with twigs and small branches, spring was definately in the air.

Eventually I was rewarded with a brief showing from a single Tawny, great views and an image I am happy with but still the good light evades me!

The Tawny didn't show for long, so I moved on a tried for some Green Woodpecker shots. These are fantastic looking birds and a species that so far I haven't managed any images of. The Landie was positioned near to the tree, I gave it half an hour and during this period it didn't return, consequently no images. However  I am very confident that once it has chicks in the nest there will be plenty of opportunities, watch this space!!

All the time whilst waiting for the Woody to return to it's tree I was constantly being distracted by the very vocal Little Owls. This pair (my site No 214) have made home in a very unusual place? Their nest tree is a very old and large pollarded Willow in the middle of a pond! I was compelled to drive over and try for some images of them, this action obviously disturbed them as they soon disappeared out of sight once I was in position. 

As I have never managed any "decent" images of the owls at this site I was prepared to invest some time to see if they would re-emerge? The wait wasn't too long, around 30 minutes before the first owl (the male) came out of hiding. Initially it kept hidden as it must have been suspicious of my presence, but in time it ventured further out and a few images were canned.

I was very lucky as the hen owl soon followed suit and came out of hiding, she seemed the most confident of the two as much better and closer views were had of her.

Whilst with them they didn't mate again, which was really the image I wanted, but I did get this image of both of them together.

My time with the owls was all too short, I needed to depart as the games I wanted to watch were soon to be on the TV.

Overall it was a great day, a good few hours birding followed by a gallon of larger. And to round off the complete day both of my teams win, oh it doesn't get much better than that!


  1. Nice Images as ever mate!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Another great post, Paul. Very envious of the Tawny, and the light on that first LO image is magic!!

  3. Cracking image of the Tawny Paul. Did you hear about "Lucky" a Tawny owl that managed to roost under the driver section of atrain leaving Glasgow, it wasn't found until it reached Stobarts rail freight yard in Crick, all it had was a sprained wing (hence the name) and was released in some woods near Warwickshire, an amazing story.

    1. Yes an amazing story Doug, its name "lucky" is very apt after all it went through!