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, 21 December 2015

Raptor alley!

Hi all!

Getting out lately has been somewhat limited, dark mornings and nights leaves only the weekends for any quality birding. But quality was just what is was at a site in Leicestershire that I have been concentrating on lately, raptors of note have been Kestrels, Buzzards, Sparrowhawks, 2 x Tawny Owls, 2 x Barn Owls, 3 x Short Eared Owls and a Merlin!!

This area has a good variety of different types of habitat but my main tactic has been to settle down out of view in a small spinney that overlooks an area of rough grassland. Viewing has been excellent but photographically it has been a challenge, either the subject is too distant or the light levels have been poor.

However, after several visits and countless invested hours the subjects and light do sometimes oblige.

The Short Eared owls here only show/hunt for a few minutes at a time, in between there can be several hours of waiting. My chosen "staked out" location on the edge of the spinney had a few posts running along in front of me, I was hoping that one of the owls would land here and offer some better views, one of them did but it was the furthest post away, typical!


I'm pretty sure the owls didn't know of my presence and occasionally one would drift across right in front of me. The views were utterly breath taking but the lack of light and slower shutter speeds did hamper the final results somewhat.  




Several times the owls would dive for prey right in front of me, I never did see them catch anything, a 100% unsuccessful catch rate! This bird below sat in the grass for an age after another fruitless dive, lucky it did as I had to revert to manual focus to attain this image as the long grass played havoc.


In between the owls showing I had to be satisfied with what ever other bird species decided to put in an appearance, on several occasions a Sparrowhawk would fly in and attack the Yellowhammers and Buntings, I didn't actually see it catch anything and I tried in vain to capture a flight shot of it, without success! However, it did once land reasonably close on top of the hedgerow, I managed this next image just as it took flight. 


A pair of Stonechats came very close on occasions, they did keep me entertained and occupied my time whilst waiting for one of the raptors/owls to show.





A pair of Kestrels also frequently showed, most of the time hovering over the field whilst hunting, sadly most of the time they were too distant to capture an image. But after several flyby attempts of a flight shot I did manage to capture the two images below. 



Sorry but I'd like to finish this post with a few more Short Eared Owl images, they were my main quarry and thoroughly satisfying to see these majestic winter visitors up so close.




I will definitely be making some return visits, hopefully the Shorties will hang around long enough for me to capture them again only in some better light conditions. And maybe, just maybe I will also be lucky enough to have some closer encounters and photographic opportunities with one of the Barn Owls or even the Merlin?

Thanks for stopping by, the chances are this will be my last post of 2015 so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for visiting and here's wishing you all a very merry xmas and a happy new year!!

Paul.

12 comments:

  1. Yet another great blog Paul and pictures to boot.Hope you have a great Christmas and already looking forward to see and read your super informative blogs next year...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for sharing your birding year with us and posting some sublime images. Here's to all our birds and hoping next year is better than this year for them. All the best to you and your pal.
    John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And thank you for your supporting words!!

      Delete
  3. Merlins are fast becoming my bogey bird plenty of sightings but no images for me, I wish you luck. The Shorties are brilliant as is the sprawk but my favourite bird is the Stonechat so I love these images. Fancy swapping managers though?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You had your chance with Ranieri and sacked him buddy, best go and get Pearson!!!!

      Delete
  4. Sorry, Paul - I could have sworn I'd already left a comment on this post!

    That's got to be one of the best raptor locations in UK that you've found there! An absolutely stunning set of images, with loads of variety too! Much as I love the owls and raptors, those Stonechat images are to die for!

    Have a wonderful Christmas!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not to worry mate, yes a good site which oozes potential, and the best thing is I am there all on my own!!

      Delete
  5. Just a brillant set of images buddy, lets hope we have good 2016 with the boxes mate............

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Col, its going to be a record year with the boxes buddy, fingers crossed!

      Delete
  6. Hi,
    I have nominated your blog for the Liebster award. Please visit this link to accept your nomination and then you can nominate 11 more bloggers for the same. Please visit the link to accept my nomination.
    https://maidensmile.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/the-liebster-nomination

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi,
    I have nominated your blog for the Liebster award. Please visit this link to accept your nomination and then you can nominate 11 more bloggers for the same. Please visit the link to accept my nomination.
    https://maidensmile.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/the-liebster-nomination

    ReplyDelete