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, 5 May 2014

A nice surprise!!

Last night I made yet another trip out to one of my Tawny Owl sites that I have been monitoring for the last few weeks. The sightings of late have been very sparse indeed with the adult birds only showing when darkness had fell, consequently poor viewing and no images! However, on this trip things turned out a bit different with a new Tawny Owl putting in an appearance? As with all the more recent visits I was in situ around 2 hours before dusk, as usual things were very quiet and nothing showed or called for the first hour or so,  but then I heard a thumping noise coming from the nest box?? My attention was turned away from the adults usual favoured perches as I was intrigued as to what was causing the strange noise coming from the box?

Then all was revealed as a Chick emerged at the box entrance, I had my suspicions that the hen owl may have been on eggs (this box hadn't been checked so I didn't know for sure) but I was shocked to see such a well developed youngster. 

It sat there for a good 10 minutes looking around and for all I knew this was possibly its first ever look at its new world? I was concerned for its welfare though, because if it dropped to the ground it would be very venerable to being predated, thankfully it didn't venture out onto the ledge opting instead to just cling on at the entrance.  

It soon tired of "clinging on" and dropped back down into the box, maybe to join its siblings? All then went very quiet for the next hour. Then just as the light was starting to fade my boredom of waiting for something to happen was broken when a "hissing" sound could then be heard coming from the box, the chick was begging for food. I got prepared as surely the parent owls could hear it too? Then as predicted one of the adult owls emerged from a crevice in a nearby tree, it was just like when mum or dad come running to a screaming kid. I was positioned in the Landrover right in-between where the owl had appeared from the roost tree and the box, the decision to park there paid dividends as it landed just where I would have asked, right next to me!

By now it was just before 9:00pm and the light had almost gone, although you would never believe it judging on these images alone. Absolutely amazing how these modern day camera's and lenses (and a bit of post editing) can still produce the goods even in the lowest of light levels. In order to obtain these images I had to "lock" the camera down on my bespoke door clamp and activate the shutter with a cable release. Yes the images are grainy but when the setting are F2.8, ISO 2000 and a shutter speed of 1/15th of a second I am well chuffed. Luckily the owl held these particular poses for a few seconds otherwise they would have just been a total blur. 

The adult owl then flew up to the box, poked its head into the hold and made a rather strange rasping shrill, (I'd never heard that call before?) but it worked, the chick(s) stopped the begging calls. Nothing much happened after that, well to be fair it was too dark to see really! 

The next thing I did was to call Neil a birding mate and local ringer, I explained to him the situation and that I was very surprised to see a chick at this box let alone such a well developed one. We knew time was of the essence for ringing as it could fledge the box very soon, Neil agreed and we arranged to make a re-visit the very next evening to open up the box and ring the chick, hopefully there will be more than one.

All will be revealed in my next post..................???

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Superb images mate considering the light, lets hope there are 2 or 3 in there??

    1. Sadly there was only the one but better than none!

  2. What a brilliant surprise that chick was. I wonder how many others are in the box. From Findlay

    1. Yes it was a surprise Findlay, after checking the box there was just the one chick, but we had another three chicks in a second box.

  3. Nice one Paul, well done.....

  4. lindo demais...amo corujas.Que tenham muitos por lá. Belo teu blog.

    Abraços e Obrigada por compartilhar.