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!!!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

A change of attack.

My Kingfisher project was starting to drive me potty, after many hours spent at what I thought was the perfect location it has now proven not to be! Yes the bird occasionally stops off, and quite close at times with the resultant images being almost exactly what I set out to achieve, but having it settled on a more natural perch would be the icing on the cake. But frustratingly it won't settle on the perches I'd like it to, so I've had to review the amount of time invested verses the rewards and with reluctance I went back to the drawing board and started again.

This meant I had to survey the river again and find a more suitable spot, the biggest problem with that was finding an area where I could get the Landrover down to the waters edge, the banks are so high. The area also needed to have the light coming from the right direction, the backgrounds needed to be considered too, and most importantly it had to be an area that I knew the bird already used. I am very fortunate because I have access to both sides of the river over about a half a mile stretch, so there should be a few spots that would fit my criteria?

After much driving up and down the river (on both banks) and plenty of deliberating I eventually chose a spot that seemed to fit the bill. It was on a bend and very close to a tree which meant it was a bit awkward getting the Landrover down to the waters edge, but doable. The light was only good at sunrise because the branches put the area into shade by mid morning, so more early starts were on the cards. The other most important factor with this chosen location was I'd previously seen the bird perched up here, but not very often. It would use some of the fallen branches from the nearby tree as perches.

A few days before my first early morning attack I went down to the waters edge and moved some of the fallen branches into more photographic positions. I was of the opinion that it would give the bird a bit of time to get use to the new set up before my re-visit.

On Sunday morning I was at the waters edge at 6.00am, it was still dark and I made a right racket negotiating a 25 point turn getting the Landrover into position, maybe I'd already ruined my chances before I'd even started? Sunrise came and it was disappointingly overcast, that was not what the weatherman had forecast. Anyhow, at 8.00am things started to improve as the clouds broke and a low slither of sunshine saturated the whole area in really nice, but not too harsh light.

At 8.30am I could hear the distinctive "peep peep" call of the Kingfisher, I wasn't able to see it though as it was around the bend. Seconds later there was a flash of blue and orange and there it was perched in the bush on the opposing bank.

Then it then dropped down and settled on one of the posts that I'd rearranged a few day early, at last I'd got an image of it on a natural perch! It only remained for a few seconds before it was off again.

The bird returned only a few minutes later and landed on the same perch again only a little lower down, this offered a totally different background (the shade underneath the far bank bush).The resultant image (below) is exactly what I'd been after right from the start, easily my favorite capture of the Kingfisher so far. The light levels were excellent, the background was perfect (I have a thing for dark backgrounds?) and the bird posed beautifully on a natural perch. It was shot at 230mm focal length and only cropped on the horizontal, a real frame filler!

As you will have probably deduced by now I am over the moon with my results so far, flipping brilliant when a plan eventually comes to fruition. I will without doubt be visiting the Kingfisher site again soon in the near future, my next objective is hopefully to get the bird on this same perch with a fish!

Thanks for stopping by,

Catch up soon........ 


  1. The last image is superb well done

  2. All your hard work has REALLY paid off this time, Paul. Absolute perfection!!

  3. I can see why you wanted a black'ish background, really makes the bird 'pop' doesn't it, brilliant.

  4. well deserved mate for the amount of time you have put in, superb images especially the last one.