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!!!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Up to date, Oct - Nov.

Flipping great isn't it, you work all week hoping the weekend would come around as soon as possible so you can then get out and see what delights of nature are about. Then the weather takes a dreadful turn for the worst and I find myself house bound looking out of the window at the pouring rain, just typical!!

Therefore, rather than do nothing I have instead just spent a few hours doing this latest blog post with a catch up of what I have been doing during the last few weeks, accompanied of course by some images.........

In the middle of last month (October) I ventured over to the south of the county, there were no real plans, it was just such a nice day it seemed a shame to waste it. Whilst driving around I chanced upon a Red Kite floating around the side of the road, I pursued it for a while and managed a few images. 

Red Kite
I was heavily engrossed with the Kite when annoyingly my phone rang, it was my mate Mick Townsend, (who rings my owls). Mick was over at Stanford reservoir doing some ringing, he had caught a couple of "nice" birds of which he wanted some images, hence he called me. Luckily I wasn't too far away so I abandoned the Red Kite chase and made my way over to Mick.

The first "nice bird" was a Yellow Browed Warbler, a gorgeous bird to which I have only previously had fleeting glimpses of. I was quite taken back at just how small it was? 

Yellow Browed Warbler
 The second "nice bird" was an "eastern" Lesser Whitethroat,  although at the time it's exact identity wasn't known? However it has since been confirmed (feather sent for DNA analysis) to actually be a Siberian race "blythi", a very rare and cool bird which had obviously "lost its way".

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat (Blythi)
On another day in late October I had a very enjoyable but frustrating time trying to capture some flight shots of Skylark at a farm where I regularly watch Little Owls. 

During another venture out where I was searching for Short Eared Owls I chanced upon a family party of Stonechats, they proved to be very obliging birds in glorious sunshine.

Stonechat - male
Stonechat - male

Stonechat - female
Stonechat - male

On the 28th of October I headed up to Scotland for a few days birding, en-route I stopped off at RSPB Leyton Moss, Lancashire with the target species being Bearded Tit. Sadly upon arrival the heavens opened which absolutely ruined  the visit and viewing was limited to just a few bird species.

Because of the weather the only option whilst there was to sit in one of the public hides, photography opportunities were so limited I even turned my attention to this nearby Carrion Crow!

Carrion Crow
From the same hide quite a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits dropped in, nice to see but it was scant consolation for a Bearded Tit! 

Black-tailed Godwit
A distant Kingfisher brightened up the dull day for a while, we watched as it had several successful dives. 
Kingfisher No 1
On walking back to the car this female Marsh Harrier was spotted sitting out the rain in a tree, don't be deceived by the brightness of the image (editing software) the day was still grey, damp and dank!

Marsh Harrier
On the first full day in Scotland the weather was somewhat variable, one minute full sunshine and then the next clouds and rain. There were no plans as to where we were going to go, it was just a case of point the car and follow the bonnet. 

Now I know in recent years there has been an explosion in Common Buzzard numbers in Leicestershire, but what we saw up in Scotland was ridiculous, they were literally everywhere! However, when it comes to gaining a decent image they are just as shy as their English cousins, this one below was one that hung around for just long enough.

Common Buzzard
The other species that seemed to be high in numbers was the tiny Goldcrest, there were literally thousands of them! However, getting an image is somewhat of a challenge, but I finally attained a result that I was pleased with.

Driving along the shores of one of the many lochs was a pleasure in itself, surprisingly not a lot of bird life was seen, apart from that is this very confining Little Grebe.

Little Grebe
Day 2 in Scotland found us catching the ferry over to the Isle of Arran, what a beautiful place! In the six hours we were on the isle we drove around the whole circumference on the coast road,  loads and loads of birds were seen including Golden Eagle and Hen Harrier. This was more of a fact finding mission for a future longer visit rather than a wildlife watching/photography visit. However, a few images were captured as we drove around.......

Black Guillemot

Hen Harrier (female/juvenile)

Common Seal



It was a very short visit where we crammed an awful lot in, but it wasn't a waste of time because I have seen enough to justify a long weekend return visit for the spring of next year.

Back home I was again out looking for owls on the morning of November the 1st, none were located but this Kingfisher was seen from the bridge at Eyebrook Reservoir. 

Kingfisher No 2
On the 2nd of November I had a day off work, it was an early start to the but the weather wasn't on my side at all, thick fog almost everywhere!

Over near Launde Abbey in the east of the county I was rewarded after a long wait with some close up views of a Little Owl as it day-roosted at its nest entrance.

Little Owl
Also near to Launde Abbey I chanced upon another Kingfisher, my third different one in under a week! Photography wasn't easy as the hanging fog made for very difficult conditions.

Kingfisher No 3
Last weekend I had an overnight trip to Norfolk, the weather was again atrocious with this Little Egret image being to only image taken!

Little Egret
It was a superb visit though with 107 different bird species being seen, the highlight birds being; Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Rough Legged Buzzard, Great White Egret, Common Crane, Short Eared Owl, Snow Bunting and MERLIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Yes yes yes, in 15 years of local searching and dedicated visits to Anglesey, the Isle of Man, umpteen visits to the coast and four visits to Scotland at last I've finally nailed my bogey bird, the dam elusive Merlin is now on my list! What a bird too, they were only scope views as it sat on top of a grassy tussock but hey I'll take it............

That's all for now folks, just about up to date now, lets hope the weather settles down and I can bring you a few more goodies from a day out tomorrow, fingers crossed!

Catch up again soon.............



  1. Nice post mate, great images as usual, love the Stonechat images!!!

  2. I don't think i've seen as many species on your blog Paul !!! Great selection.

    1. I try to keep my blog mainly to owls species Johnny but occasionally some other bits and pieces slip in!

  3. Glad you caught up with a Merlin. There are many cracking images Paul. My personal favourite is the Stonechat being a firm favourite bird of mine. Equally I love the Red Kite too. The size of the Eider flock is just ludicrous. Great to see so many

    1. Seeing the Merlin was my "bird of the year" Doug, just need an image now! The Eider flock was three times the size to what is shows in my image, great to see. Thanks for your comment.

  4. I forgot the Skylarks, never easy to get a good flight shot but I really like your one

    1. Mmmmmmmmmm, I wan't happy with it, but it got published because it is my best to date, must do better!

  5. What a fabulous collection of images, Paul !!! I think that my favourite has to be the first Stonechat image, with the Red Kite, Goldcrest and (of course!) the Little Owl all vying for second place. Brilliant !!

    Will be in touch soon about the calendar. Best wishes - - - - Richard

    1. Recent conditions for photography have been tough (as you well know), so to get nice comments like this gives me encouragement, thanks Richard!

  6. Marvelous post the stonechat is my favourite.

  7. Super images Paul, like the Red Kite in particular, you are always very lucky with the Kingfishers, all I see is either a blue flash or am told "you should have been here five minutes ago"

  8. Awesome blog yet again,with some awesome images, well done Paul....