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, 3 December 2015

Short Eared Owl - December 2015

Tis that time of year again, no I'm not on about the on-approach of xmas, but something totally different.........Short Eared Owls! 

Each winter we are blessed in the UK with these birds moving down from their northern breeding grounds in search of suitable areas that will provide food and shelter. Their numbers can vary from year to year but looking in the birding news over the last few weeks it appears that we maybe in for quite a good year as sightings are frequently being reported, possibly a sign of a harsh winter to come?

If your lucky they will settle for a wintering area near you, so for the last few weeks I have been regularly visiting suitable areas to see if I could find a bird(s) of my own. Up until last weekend I'd so far drawn a blank, not one bird seen. However, I don't give up that easy and finally I was rewarded with the sighting of a single bird at a location I'd already visited four or five times! 

To be fair I nearly missed this bird too, I'd been parked up for two hours viewing a suitable looking tussocky field and nothing was seen. I was just about to call it a day as the light started to fade,  I was again resigned to another "no show"  when a single bird emerged from the long  grass!

I watched as it quartered back and forth whilst hunting for voles, it was getting darker by the second which wasn't conducive for photography, shooting at an ISO of 1600 this was the only "usage image" I captured of it in flight.

It then settled down on the ground after an unsuccessful dive for prey, it sat there for a few minutes and I was quite amused as a male Pheasant walked out to have a look at it! They had a "stare off" for a few seconds before the owl took flight again.

The owl then came closer than before and settled on a spindly twig about 50 yards from me, it sat here for quite some time which allowed me to add my x 1.4 converter to my 500mm lens. This gave me a bit more focal reach, considering the distance and low light levels I am very pleased with the results even if the sharpness isn't top notch.

So now I have located a wintering bird it is fingers crossed that it stays using this same area until I can re-visit at the weekend?

Sorry it is only a short post, but not much too see and do at the moment.

Catch up again soon folks!


  1. The last image is a cracker Paul as is the flight shot, but I really found the one with the pheasant very amusing. Looking forward to more posts featuring this bird hopefully it'll be joined by one or two more soon.

  2. Yes I do hope it hangs around Doug and is joined by a few more, watch this space!

  3. Stunning images Paul,you really do work hard in locating these birds ans deserve all the accolades that these blogs and images bring to you.