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!!!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

More little 'uns........

During the last week or so I've been spending as much free time as possible visiting some of my "known" Little Owl sites. Each location has previous breeding pedigree, so in order to help me prioritise which locations will be "live" in the spring the ground work has to be done now. Initially my first objective was to see if the birds are still in residence,  and if so is there is a pair too? 

Site No 88, a pair in residence but not photographed together.
At the moment my site monitoring is somewhat limited to roadside locations only because the faithful Landrover is off the road again (she hasn't broken down, just no MOT or tax!). This means I am not able to get "off the beat and track" and away from all public places. This is somewhat disappointing because some of my best monitored sites for viewing and photography are well away from any roads or human disturbance.

Site No 154, a pair in residence but not photographed together.
I have also noticed that this year compared to others the owls are mating earlier than I have witnessed before. Not sure why this is but what it does mean is there are going to be some early chicks for sure. At some of the sites where I have only observed a single owl it doesn't necessarily mean there isn't a pair in residence, just that the hen owl has already started her incubation duties.

However, at some sites I have been lucky enough to have witnessed and photographed the resident pair. It was good news at site No 26, a pair are in residence after a barren two years!

The resident pair at my site No 26.
It was also good news at my site No 39. I'd major concerns here as a new housing estate has been erected only 20 metres away from the nest tree, I thought the birds would vacate the site because of all the noise and human interference, I was obviously wrong!

The resident pair at my site No 39.

Site No 61, only a single owl has been seen here so far.

Site No 61, no birds here last year, looks like they have returned.
At site No 92 a pair have been seen too, this image below is of the hen bird peering out from the nest.

Site No 92, proven breeding here for the last 5 consecutive years!
Site No 35 a single owl was spotted hiding behind this branch, it wasn't in the known nest tree but not too far away so this is being referenced as a "live site" too.

Site No 35, a shy bird still here.
This quite striking individual was photographed at my site No 72, although I didn't see the second bird I heard it calling so good news here too.

A pair still in residence at site No 72
A single bird only was located at site No 32, albeit a very confining individual. Maybe the hen bird was in the nest hole?

Site 72, only one bird seen.
A quite stern and angry looking solitary owl was also observed at site No 214. An unusual nest site location this, in a willow tree on the end of a peninsular that is surrounded by water on 3 sides.

It isn't all good news though, so far there has been 17 roadside sites that I've previously monitored breeding activity at where no sightings have been made after 3 separate visits. I am just hoping that it was down to my inadequate observation skills rather than there being no birds present?

Thanks for stopping by, catch up soon........


  1. Nice blog yet again Mr Riddle and stunning images to boot.Lets hope all is good with forthcoming breeding season.....

  2. Great images Paul, hope you get the Landy back on the road soon, or should it be off road. Interestingly even though it's a different species etc but certain garden visitors were collecting nesting material as early as the second week in March. I have two different females already sitting on nests. Again I think the warm'ish weather has played it's part

    1. Yes I too believe the "early spring" weather has kicked started some species into breeding mode Doug.

  3. Nice set of images buddy as always!!!