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!!!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Owls and Kites.......



On Wednesday evening the weather was pretty good, yes there was a slight breeze but the sun was occasionally poking through the clouds giving good low light at times, how could one rebuke getting out for a few hours in such good conditions? Not me for sure!!!!

I ventured over towards the eastern side of my Owl monitoring area, to be fair I was swayed in going in that direction because I wanted to see if I could improve on my recent Osprey images, but owls were high on the agenda too!

En route I wanted to see if the recent Tawny Owls I first located a few weeks ago were still showing as well? As I drove through the country lanes nothing much was seen, until that is a pair of Little Owls were observed sitting in a roadside tree, I'd never seen owls here before and in the bag was another new site! I'm not giving this new site a number (as I have with the previously found 200 plus sites!).  I've stopped looking for new Little Owl sites as their population seems to be doing very well here in Leicestershire, although that doesn't seem to be the case for the rest of the UK? However, numbering and recording new sites put aside I still felt compulsed to stop and take an obligatory photo of them, below.

New Little Owl site No ????
Although Little Owls are by far my favorite owl, my affections for Barn & Tawny owls isn't too far behind. There is no doubt about it the Little Owl is easily the best owl to watch up close, they are full of character and can entertain for hours on end, where the other two species are pretty boring to say the least. If they are observed during the daylight hours (which is rare) the Tawny just sits most of the time doing nothing and the Barn Owl is usually seen out hunting and the views are mainly too distant or all too brief. But, having said that the latter two species are far more of a challenge to initially find and then to photograph, so to balance out the argument far more satisfaction is now gained if I do get to photograph either of these two mostly nocturnal species.

After my discovery of the new Little Owl site I continued on my way, it wasn't too long after I found myself at the Tawny Owl site again. And right on cue one of the birds (presumably the hen bird) was again sitting at the cavity entrance. A few images were obtained but they were all very similar, as I said previously Tawny Owls in the daytime mostly sit doing nothing!! 

Tawny Owl.
Finally I arrived at the Osprey site, a bird showed on two separate occasions and it was great viewing as it dived into the water and caught a fish both times, sadly all this action was far too distant and no usable images were obtained. Whilst I was watching the Osprey I got chatting to a nice couple who I'd bumped into during a previous visit to this site. They told me about a nearby location where they had seen some Red Kites, this was too much of a temptation for me and off I went.

I didn't manage to get to the destination that they had recommended as only a couple of miles down the road from where I'd left them I came across a Red Kite!! It was twisting and turning along the road I was driving along, this was too much of a tease so I stopped the car and got out. The next hour was spent following and tracking the bird on foot. It was heavy going too as carrying the 500mm lens and  the tripod was bloody hard work, but I eventually got some images that I am very pleased with so it was all worth it in the end. 

Red Kite

Red Kite being harassed by a Rook.

Rook
The time spent with the Kite was quality and I really enjoyed it, without a doubt my best ever views of this species and definitely my best ever images. Even though the bird was showing well I had to depart, it was hard to pull myself away but I'd got another pressing engagement with a potential new Barn Owl site.

A good friend of my Mrs (Shani) is a self confessed owl nut, she gets out when ever she can in and around the lanes where she lives donning her night vision goggles! She has done very well too and regularly see's Little Owls and the odd Tawny, but when the news came in that she'd found a Barn Owl site my ears really did prick up! I'd never seen a Barn Owl in the location that was mentioned so I had to investigate before it got too dark. 

Shani's directions to the location left a bit to be desired but I eventually found the describe tree, I pulled up along side and waited. It wasn't too much of a wait either as a bird was soon looking out of the cavity straight at me. There was a lot of branches and twigs obscuring my view but I did manage this record shot, below.

Barn Owl, new site.
This location was quite a surprise to me as the tree the owl was in was only a few yards from the road and dead opposite a very busy farm entrance. It wasn't long before the light started to fade and a second Barn Owl appeared, that was great to see as the likelihood now is that this is a breeding site.

So it was quite a good evening, a new Little Owl site, a showy Tawny Owl, my best ever Red Kite views and a new Barn Owl location, it was a shame the Osprey didn't play along as well!

Many thanks to the couple at the Osprey site for the Red Kite info and to Shani (my new owl finder general) for locating the Barnie's.

Catch up soon folks...........

14 comments:

  1. my pleasure Rid. heres to many more wonderful new sites and sightings. awesome pics too.

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    1. Thanks very much my little helper!

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  2. Fantastic post Paul. All top quality images. The Tawny looks quite content and snug in it's cavity. I really like the Red Kite images. You caught it some great light and action too.

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    1. Thanks Doug, the Red Kike images have been a long while in the waiting!

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  3. Yet another great blog Paul, with some quality images too.....

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words buddy!

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  4. As always superb images, really like the Kite images, great post buddy!!!!

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  5. OMG!!!.. What lovely pictures. I love all the birds.. Melodious warbler is easy to photograph... Next time you will get it.. Regards from Madrid..

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    1. Thank you Ana, but not quite up to the same quality as you seem to consistently achieve, but I'm trying!

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  6. Wonderful pictures - Little owls are my favourite too - we've been trying to locate little owls in our local area but it's like finding a needle in a haystack! If you can give me any tips on how to find them I'd be very grateful! I know we have them locally as somebody I know has found some but he wants to keep it secret so I'm still looking!

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    1. Hi Sharon, thanks for dropping by. My best bit of advice is to familiarized yourself with their calls and then get out into the open countryside and just listen.The best time is dawn and dusk as this is when they are most active. Failing that you need to twist the arm of your friend, or tempt them with a pile of cash!! Good luck and happy hunting!!

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  7. A super set of images, Paul. A fabulous trio of owls and great Red Kite images too. I see Red Kite most times that I'm out owling with Titus (usually at a great distance) but, in my experience, they're not the easiest to photograph in flight and maintain detail - I either seem to under-expose, or over expose and burn out facial detail.

    Best wishes - - - - Richard

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    1. Thanks for your comments Richard, yes I initially had problems with getting the correct exposure on the Kites too, I shot in manual mode and only exposed for the whites, the rest just seemed to fall into place then. more luck than judgement to be fair!!

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