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, 4 November 2015


Hi all,

Not a lot doing on the owling front of late, so my apologies on the lack of recent posts! To be fair this time of year is always a bit slow, I guess that my own motivation is also dampened somewhat with the nights drawing in, my only real opportunities to get out and about are limited to weekends and then most Saturdays are taken up with following the mighty L.C.F.C, so that really only leaves Sunday's! 

However, I have just managed to squeeze in a short trip to Ayrshire, I'd never been to this area of Scotland before and I wasn't disappointed at all! The scenery was just as spectacular as other areas that I have previously visited but this was my first visit in the autumn which made it extra special.

It was a general birding trip with no real target species, except for Short Eared Owls that is! 

Of the four days spent in the area three of them were in and around our base of Ayr, we visited lots of different towns and villages along the coast. Many small bays and inlets were searched and plenty of goodies seen. A total 84 different bird species were ticked off, but the highlight was a day trip to the isle of Arran where Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier, Red Breasted Merganser and Red Squirrel were all seen.

But by a country mile the most memorable sighting of the trip was made on Saturday morning, we were parked up overlooking the rocks at Troon whilst enjoying breakfast. Purple Sandpiper was the target species, sadly these were not seen but this was more than compensated when a Otter was seen. 

This was only my second ever sighting of a wild Otter (and my first "self found"). The light was terrible but that didn't stop me from attempting a few "record shots" as it swam along in the surf. 

The Otter was quite distant so the x 1.4 converter was attached, this compounding matters for the worse as it slowed my potential shutter speeds down to only 1/250th second. 

It appeared to catch a fish, then to our delight it then came out of the sea and chomped on its dinner whilst resting on the rocks. 

Once it had finished eating the fish off it went again, in and out of the rock pools in search of more food, all the time is inched nearer and nearer to us.

Then to our utter amazement it started to run straight at us! It got within 20 yards sniffing the ground as it hurried along. 

The Otter seemed to go straight under the car and then disappeared? I was still having problems with slow shutter speeds so the converter was quickly removed whilst we waited for it to re-appear.

It was then spotted again right down beside the car on the passenger side. It was heading away from us so I made a squeaking noise, this stopped it in its tracks and it looked back. Luckily the passenger window was open and the next full frame image was attained, 

It didn't seem very impressed with my squeak and off it scampered not to be seen again. What a fantastic 10 minutes we had with this delightful creature, an encounter never to be forgotten.......

Thanks for stopping by, catch up again soon folks!


  1. Magical moments those you shared with the Otter, never to be forgotten. Pics aren't bad at all but the experience of the close encounter is the main thing. Any good images are a bonus ! Isle of Arran is a stunning place. Not been for some years now but that is locked away in my memory banks.

    1. Your bang on Johnny, having an encounter like this is magical and savoring the memories is the most important thing, all else is a bonus, cheers!

  2. Wonderful images of the Otter Paul, the last image is superb and brings back memories of being in Sutherland.

    1. This was my third visit to a Scottish isle in recent years, but my first encounter with an otter, just magical!

  3. It's always exciting to see an Otter, Paul, but to get one that close AND get great images like these is a 'once in a lifetime' situation. Brilliant!

    Best wishes - - Richard

    1. It was a great experience Richard, never to be forgotten!

  4. Great images,must have been really rewarding to see it come thar close,we recently have three being seen quite regularly at Marazion. Have seen them once but only managed a few distant shots.
    Great find well done.

  5. Great images of the Otter Paul, if only your impression of an Otter was equally as good you'd probably attract hundreds lol. It always seems weird to see an Otter in surf rather then a river.

    1. Really weird to see one in the sea Doug, I'll take it though! As for my Otter call, mmmmmm room for improvement there!

  6. Nice set of images buddy!!!!

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