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, 4 May 2015

Tawnies - A pair!

I had a few spare hours on Sunday morning so I decided I'd spend them wisely and go and see if I could again locate the Osprey I'd recently been watching. En-route the weather had a turn for the worst and it went as black as a witches hat before the rain came pouring down.  This had obviously scuppered my plans of trying to firstly find the Osprey and secondly attempt to capture some improved flight shots. 

Plan B was then put into action, I re-visited the new Tawny Owl site that was first located only a few days ago. Mmmmm early morning and pouring down with rain obviously isn't conductive to owl watching either but I was in the area so I gave it a go.

This site/location makes for really easy watching, the tree is located along a quiet country lane amid a hedgerow with a gateway dead opposite for parking the car. The cavity where the owl was last seen is only about 8 feet high so taking images from my parked car is really easy.

Initially I had a slow drive by to see if the owl was again sitting in the cavity, it wasn't so I parked up and poked the camera out of the window. I wasn't disheartened that after an hour of waiting and watching I hadn't seen anything, Tawny Owls are mostly nocturnal. However, during the breeding season they can be seen in the daytime as my experiences told me last year. With this in mind my vigil continued on into the second hour, then without any notice a Tawny flashed in from the right and landed in the cavity. It turned, looked straight at me and then disappeared into the hole. Seconds later it popped out again, looked around, screeched and then flew off! 

Owl No 1
During all this mad few seconds of action I did manage to capture an image, (above) taken just before the owl dropped into the hole. I also captured a few shots of when it came out and flew off but due to the low light levels and slow shutter speeds they were all rendered to the trash bin. As can be seen the owl was quite wet, had it been out day hunting and then bringing in food for it's partner or chicks?

Another 15 minutes passed without incident, I was then alerted by a screech that seemed to come from a nearby tree in the adjacent field, was the owl about to make another visit? I then heard another screech that came from the cavity????  Initially I thought the owl must have flew in and I'd missed it but then all was explained, out of the cavity popped a second owl!

Owl No 2
During the next hour another two visits were made by the first owl (presumably the male) he brought in a vole/shrew/mouse on one visit, not sure which? This now confirmed to me that this must be a breeding location (and not just a roosting site) and chicks must surely be present, hence the daytime hunting.

As one of the owls vacated the hole I did try for a flight shot, I had to change my camera settings drastically in order to achieve a maximum 1/640 shutter speed. I pre-focused about a foot out from the hole and tried to time it to when the owl flew into the focus plain, below.  

There was nothing else to report during this session, the rain got heavier and the owls became quiet, however I will be making more visits here and hopefully there will be chicks to report soon!

Catch up soon folks........... 


  1. Wow a seriously great set of images, like them all.

  2. Agree with Doug mate nice set of images!!

  3. Considering the conditions they are beauts Paul.

  4. Fantastic set of images Paul!!

  5. Hi Paul

    Tawnies look somewhat wet bless them. That 500 mm lens certainly brings up the goods.
    With the Osprey did you see the second number ie 03/09

    1. No John, just the No 03 on a blue ring, I have done some further investigations and this bird fledged from Rutland in 2009. I have sent Richard a text with a little more info.......

  6. I could have sworn that I'd left a comment on this post, Paul. Sorry for the omission! Any one of those shots, if from my work, would have contended for my photo of the year. Utterly brilliant stuff!

    1. No worries ref no comment Richard, it's not compulsory but always good when readers do leave feedback, cheers mate!