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, 2 September 2014

Two birds with one stone!

Apparently it was my turn to take the dog (Patch) for a walk, I tried to pass the buck and get one of the kids to do it but the Mrs was having none of it! I reluctantly agreed as I could kill two birds with one stone and get in a couple of hours birding/owling in at the same time! 

So the dog and were loaded up and off we went over to my newly named Oriel patch. The reason for re-visiting this particular area was I could kill another two birds with one stone? En-route I would be passing by the local tyre fitters and I could drop off the Landrover tyre that needed repairing (but that's another story).

Patch and I finally got out into the fields around 7.00pm, I had a drive around looking for what birds may have dropped in whilst he ran alongside, as we approached the river Patch did his usual suicidal dive straight in. An explosion of water erupted up into the air followed closely by a mass of white feathers and a loud croak?? The dog had nearly jumped on top of a Little Egret, I hadn't seen it as must have been obscured by the rushes and vegetation. This was my very first sighting of this species at this location after seven years of visiting, a sure sign that their population dispersal to pastures new continues. 

The next hour was spent driving around and stopping at different locations, not a lot was seen really apart from the Egret again (it looked shocked and ruffled) and a flying away Green Sandpiper. Whilst I was parked up adjacent to the river a huge mixed tit flock passed by, this Chiffchaff and Long Tailed Tit both stopped long enough allowing me to capture an image of them. 

Long Tailed Tit

On the way home I called in to see a farmer friend at Blaby, in the spring he had passage Wheatears in one of his "rough" fields. I was hoping to maybe see them again on their return journey and hopefully a Whinchat as I need this species for my year list.

The farmer and I chewed the fat (chatted away) for a while and it was OK for me to go and park up near the rough tussocky area to see what was about. Unfortunately there were no Wheatears or Whinchats but what did show was more than compensation.........a pair of Barn Owls!! They were sat together in a leafless tree about 100 yards away. 

By now the light had almost gone (8.20pm) so in order to grab a record shot the ISO had to be pumped up to 2500 and even with the combined aperture of F2.8 only 1/25 of a second shutter speed could be obtained.

I managed both of the above images whilst standing in the middle of the "scrub field", I was amazed the birds didn't see me. I quickly retreated back to the Landrover and waited to see what happened next? 

I did my "mouse impersonation" (sort of a squeak) out of the window and one of the birds re-acted to it and flew straight towards me. It landed on a nearby post and gave me "the stare". Luckily it remained as still as a statue for a few seconds which allowed me to attain the image below.  

The conditions were very difficult for photography especially when there was so little light and my lens doesn't have image stabilization. Putting the quality of the images aside it was still great to watch them both and with a bit of luck they will hang around and breed next year in one of the nearby boxes I've erected.

Only a brief post but thanks for stopping by.

Catch up soon!


  1. Well that worked out really well, Paul! Brownie points with the missus, and some super bird images too, with the Barnies being the icing on the cake!

    Keep taking advantage of the better weather - it'll never last!!

    1. You are quite right Richard, the weather will soon be turning but along with the changes there should be some other opportunities that nature will present us with.........thanks for stopping by mate.

  2. The barnie on the post is brilliant I like it's stare. Well done too on on the Chiff

  3. Nice images buddy, do you think they are the two adults still hanging about mate

    1. Yes hopefully its the adults Col, couldn't make out any rings on them?