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, 5 May 2015

3 Owl Bank Holiday Monday

Yipeeee, a day off work and with no other commitments to speak of, so I made the executive decision that the whole day would be spent birding.

My first encounter of any note was with a Little Owl (owl species No 1). This image (below) was taken at a regularly visited site, the light was atrocious hence the image looking a bit bland and washed out but good to see the bird never the less. 

My next stop off was at the new Tawny Owl site (owl species No 2) that I first located last week. Again one of the resident birds was sitting at the cavity entrance as I pulled up alongside. This was a bit of a surprise because unlike on previous visits when the weather was foul this morning it was brilliant sunshine and the owl was blazed in full light! 

I'd been watching the owl for only a few minutes when it vacated the relative snugness of its hole and flew off out of site along the treeline. This took me by surprise and the resultant attempt of a flight shot was a total disaster. However, because of the good light I changed my camera setting and waited for the next chance. 

During the next hour or so the owl made several flights away from the cavity and these next three images where my best efforts of capturing some of the action.

After the last time the owl departed the tree it didn't return after 45 minutes of waiting, I'm suspecting it had gone off to day roost somewhere nice and shady.

My next stop was at the site where I have been seeing Osprey's recently, I didn't have much time to set up here because as soon as I pulled up the bird was showing quite well high above the bay. No time to set up the tripod or attached the x 1.4 converter, I just rattled off a few dozen hand held images whilst it circled around high above me, yes the light levels were brilliant but because the sun was so high in the sky most of the images suffered from harsh shadows in the under-wing.

This next image below is the original of the cropped version above, it gives some idea of how high the bird was up when shooting at 500mm.

The Osprey didn't hang around for long and it soon floated off along the shoreline and out of site. This gave me a chance to set up the tripod and attached the x 1.4 converter. Whilst waiting for the Osprey to return I took the opportunity to practice on a few other bird species that happened to fly by within shooting distance. These next two images are again massive crops of the originals, the birds seemed to be comfortable with hugging the shoreline which is a good distance away. But this has given me valuable practice with the new 500mm lens in readiness for my up and coming trip to Scotland (Western Isles) where I will be targeting Short Eared Owls in flight.

Black Headed Gull

The Osprey came back around again, but he didn't hang around for too long as he was continually harassed by this Common Tern.

I couldn't resist taking a few shots of this Red Legged Partridge as it wondered around in front of me. Yes I know they are a very common species but what striking plumage.

Eventually the Osprey returned again, it didn't come any closer than it did before but with the converter attached I did manage to capture this next image, probably my best of the bird so far? 

Later in the evening and after a lengthy quiet spell  more drama unfolded, a Barn Owl (owl species No 3) came drifting past. It was 7.10pm and the "good light" had gone, the ISO was pumped up to 1600 and with a shutter speed of 1/400 of a second only this one image was deemed "usable".

So that's it for now folks, it was a great day and much much better than being at work, we should have more bank holidays!!!

I'll be back soon with an update on how all our nest boxes are fairing, going to be conducting my first round of checks very soon........


  1. Brilliant set of images buddy, looks like you had a good day!!!

    1. Oh yes it was a good day, better than being at work!

  2. I honestly think the first LO image is great Paul, I'd be happy with that. The Osprey is equally good and an awkward bird to expose for. My favourites has to be the Tawny as it's just so rare to see one in flight. Great images mate.

    1. I am glad you mentioned the difficulty in attaining the correct exposure when photographing Ospreys Doug, I had a mare!!! Tawnies in the sunshine, as common as rocking horse shite!!

  3. What a fabulous weekend! That set of images is totally brilliant, Paul. My favourites are those of the Tawny, and the Barn Owl. As for the Osprey, I'm with Doug. I've never got a decent shot of an Osprey yet! Well done.

    I hope the weather picks up and you have a great weekend - - - Richard

    1. Yes a great day was had Richard, a lot of waiting with nothing happening most of the time at the Tawny Owl site though, I'm still not completely satisfied with the Osprey image, I WILL be returning again.......cheers buddy!