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, 24 November 2014


It was bit of a quiet weekend on the owling front, the mighty Leicester City FC were playing at home on Saturday afternoon, because I was being picked up by Daz at 1.0pm it only left a few spare hours in the morning. However, these few hours were efficiently utilized with the setting up of a few perches at a new Kingfisher site (No 3). This is the site where a landowner friend has them regularly visiting a pool and feeder stream that feeds their Mill. Whilst there I didn't actually see the Kingfishers but I did hear two different birds calling nearby. This location is absolutely perfect for Kingfishers and the layout lends itself perfect for photography, or at least it will once they accept and start using my perches, but more about this site at a later date.......

On Sunday morning I didn't go out owl watching, it was a miserable drizzly day and my head was pounding, the consequences of too much booze the night before, I'll never learn? So around midday a walk with the dog in the fresh air was decided upon to be the best tonic, not just to help clear my head but also to cheer up the dog!

We walked across the soggy fields not far from the village of Cosby, I'd purposely chose this walk as I wanted to check out one of my Barn Owl boxes that I erected in an old disused building. Over the last 3-4 years I have seen birds around this particular building on many occasions, they do use the box as it is full of regurgitated  pellets but they have never used it as a breeding site? 

I last visited the box to check for any breeding back in mid July, lots of pellets but no birds and definitely no signs of breeding. However, it now seems as though I may have last checked it out too early, as yesterday morning what greeted was a saddening sight. There on the floor of the building and directly below the nest box were two dead Barn Owls.   

I moved both of the carcasses outside for better inspection, neither bird was rung and neither showed any obvious signs of being predated. The primary feathers on the lower bird were not fully developed so I can only conclude that they were young birds that had either fledged the box too early or something sinister had happened to the parent owls and these youngsters had starved?

Whilst there I also found several very fresh pellets on the floor (jet black, heavy and damp) so even though these dead birds were in attendance other bird(s) are still frequenting the building, maybe the parents? So this discovery was a bitter sweet moment, sweet in the fact that another pair of Barn Owls have attempted to breed in the confines of my survey area but very bitter when young birds are discovered like this!

Hopefully my next post will be a little less morbid?

Back soon!


  1. That's a shame about the youngsters to me they still look kind of "fresh" and haven't been dead for long, perhaps a late failed brood?

    1. Yeah I am of the same opinion Doug, still a shame though!

  2. That's a very sad sight, Paul. I'm thinking Doug may be right. Just don't let it get to you too much, and don't get disheartened. You're doing a splendid job there.

    I'm reading the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook at the moment, and it says that the biggest single factor affecting the size of the Barn Owl population in UK is the post-fledging survival rate. I've not yet got to the bit where it says how this can be improved, however.

    1. I'd be interested to see what it says when you have read through it Richard?

  3. Fingers crossed mate for next year and the parents take up residence again!!