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!!!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Evening Tawny Watching.......

For a couple of evenings in the last week or so I taken a break from checking on the development of the local breeding Barn Owls, instead I opted to go and see if I could find some Tawnies. 

The Tawny Owl is the earliest breeder of the British Owls and of the five sites I have been monitoring closely this spring the juveniles have all now fledged their relative nest sites. However, just because they have fledged the nest it doesn't necessarily mean they have moved away from the general breeding territory? Finding them is a tough task on its own as they tend to keep well hidden in the high dense branches of a nearby tree, but I had a plan! Like most fledged owls, Tawny Owl youngsters can give away their presence by way of their begging call when hungry. So it was just a case of parking up in the general vicinity of a breeding site and waiting until they started to beg.

At the first site I visited it was possibly at little early in the day at 8.00pm for the young owls to be making their begging calls, I failed in seeing or even hearing a young bird, maybe they had already moved on to pastures new? As consolation one of the adult owls did put in a brief appearance, it appeared out of the dense undergrowth and landed on a steel fence post. 

It sat on the post for a few fleeting seconds before moving up higher into an exposed branch in a nearby tree and then that was that, it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared!

At another site I was again in situ in the Landrover around 8.30pm, it didn't take too long before I heard the tell-tail begging call of a young owl. It sounded like it was coming from a small spinney on the opposite side to where I was viewing. I clambered across onto the passenger seat and opened the window, the begging call was now very loud. I then had 30 minutes of frustration as the begging calls transformed into hallowing screeches, I think the young bird was demanding to be fed! I'd had enough of this as I still hadn't made a sighting, so I decided to get out and have a look.  I crept around the back of the small spinney and entered via a small track. As the wooded area was only about the size of half a tennis court surely I'd see something?

Adult Tawny Owl
I gingerly made my way into the now darkening wooded area trying desperately not to stand on any twigs, on my first glance up I spotted an adult owl straight away. It was staring back down at me as it held it's "you can't see me" posture. It held its nerve and didn't move, this gave me a great opportunity to grab an image through the leaves and branches. 

Then the silence was broken as a juvenile started to beg again, it wasn't easy to see at first but after a re-position I could see up into the canopy and make it out perched above the adult bird. This was probably it's first ever encounter with a human being and constantly moved its head around in an inquisitive motion. I managed an image and then moved away leaving them both where I'd found them.

Juvenile Tawny Owl
At the third site I had some more success, here two juveniles were heard and then seen in and around a small group of Willow Trees. Frustratingly I never managed an image of either of them but I did however grab an image of one of the adult owls as it appeared in the Willows with some prey in its beak. 

Adult Tawny and dinner.
As you can image once the adult owl came in with this prey (not sure what it is, a rat possibly?) all hell was let loose with both of the juvenile owls scrapping and squabbling for their dinner. Sadly because of the low light and slow shutter speed none of the resultant images were any good!  

A great few evenings with some smashing views, really good that the local Tawnies seem to have had a really good breeding season.

Thanks for stopping by, catch up with you all again soon!


  1. Looks like a rat to me too Paul. Amazing images love them all. Great work

  2. I hate rats! - but in the grasp of that Tawny it makes for a fabulous image. A wonderful set, Paul.

  3. Great set of Images as always buddy, love the header!!!!

  4. Get Hourly profit for 200 hours on every hour without any risk and without any work, best business plans ever