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!!!

Sunday, 28 December 2014


I do apologise if the title of this post affends, but I couldn't think of a more fitting way to describe the scum to who it refers.

Please let me explain the recent events that have lead to me feeling this way. On Boxing Day morning I had a call from one of my very good landowner friends, he had found a dead Barn Owl in one of his out buildings. Yes a tragic discovery especially as this site was one of our successful breeding locations from this year. As we discussed his discovery in more depth it became apparent that it was one of the adult birds, but there was something else? The breast feathers on the corpse were soaked in blood?? We both agreed that this was rather odd and not really consistent of a death from natural causes? This made us suspect foul play especially as there had been people seen shooting on Xmas eve morning in the field adjacent to where the nest box is located. 

My friend was  devestated, and very very angry, he'd not had Barn Owls at his farm for decades and seeing these birds on a regular basis this year gave him enormous pleasure. But before we could jump to any conclusions more evidence was required if our worst thoughts were to be proven. So the corpse was sent to a local veterinary with the background evidence and our request for it to be checked out. This morning (dec 28th)  my friend called me to say the vet had some news, he had x-rayed the bird and three shot gun pellets were discovered lodged in its torso, undoubtedly the reason for its death!!

It appears that the owl must have been disturbed from the box and then shot, it obviously wasn't initially a fatal wound as it managed to make its way to the building to where it must have suffered a lingering death before being discovered the next day. How can someone be so callous, there is no mistaking a Barn Owl for any other type of bird, especially mid morning in good light!

Ironically the image of the Barn Owl with its wings spread in my current header image is the bird that was found, a cracking individual that was hoped to be gracing the countryside of South Leicestershire for years to come........sadly not any more!

My next step is to compile all the evidence and forward it to the local police office who over-sees local wildlife crime, if anyone has any other suggestions as to other actions I could persue in order to see that justice is done then please get in contact.


Monday, 22 December 2014

Happy Christmas

Hi all,

This is potentially my last post of the year so I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all visitors to my blog during 2014 a very merry Christmas and a happy  new year. A special thanks must also go to those of you who take the time to leave comments, they are all greatly appreciated.

Have a hoot of a holiday and hopefully we'll catch up again in 2015.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Bad News.....

Hi all, sorry for the lack of posts of late, the weather hasn't allowed me to get out to do any birding.

However, on a related note I had a phone call last week from my buddy Adey and with hindsight it was a call that I rather not have taken? Whilst on his way to work he got held up in a traffic jam, as he was inching his way through the congestion  he made a  sighting out of the corner of his eye (a private joke!). There laying on the roadside verge was a dead Barn Owl! I asked him to pull over and check it out and to see if it was a ringed bird, unfortunately he was already late for work and explained he didn't have time. To be fair I think the thought of parading up and down the grass verge to check out a corpse whilst in full view of the slow moving traffic was too much of an embarrassment for him?

Because this gruesome discovery was made on the most southern boundary of my monitoring area I felt compelled to investigate further. A few hours later I too was in the same congestion, but the slow moving traffic enabled me to locate the bird quite easily. I managed to park the car safely in a lay-by and then made my way back along the roadside to where the bird lay. As I was standing there taking a few photo's of the bird with my I-phone I got some very strange looks from the passers by. I picked up the bird to check to see if it had been ringed, it hadn't. I don't think it had been there too long as it appeared to quite fresh, obviously a result of being hit by a passing car/lorry. As I stood there arm outstretched with the bird dangling a passing driver open their window and shouted out "sicko" how very charming of them, well I suppose it must have looked quite strange!   

A sad sight for anyone's eyes.
Unknown to my Mrs the unfortunate Barn Owl is now wrapped in a plastic bag and nestling nicely on the bottom shelf of our freezer, goodness knows what she will say if its found? I hope to have the bird looked at by a local taxidermists that I know and maybe soon it will have pride of place in my office?

Whilst on this sad subject of dead Barn Owls, I had another message come through last week from my ringing buddy, Mike Townsend. He'd had information sent through to him of a "recovery" (details of a bird he'd previously rung). This was bad news too, a young owl that we rung at one of my breeding sites this year (near to the village of Gilmorton) had been found dead. It was found near the village of Ashley in the county of Northamptonshire, it had traveled 21 km due east. I don't have any further information at this time but I suspect it was another roadside collision with a car/lorry that resulted in its untimely end? 

This image below was taken at the time we rung the said owl along with it's three siblings back in June. I have no way of knowing which one of the four is the unfortunate one but I do hope the other three are still out there and fairing well.

The question I have now is why did the young Barn Owl travel so far from its natal site? Its not as if we don't have enough boxes up for them, or maybe we don't? Colin and I are on the case and as we speak more boxes are in production, they will soon be erected in strategic locations within my monitoring area, more about that soon........

Thanks for stopping by and hopefully the next post won't be too far away?