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!!!

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Down The River

Early Sunday morning it was clear and bright, it appeared to be just the perfect conditions for a spot of wildlife watching and photography. However, I was deceived because as I started the car the temperature gauge flashed back at me,  it was minus 2 degrees!

I'd decided that I was going to visit one of my favorite local sites over near the village of South Wigston. My last visit here was well before Christmas, recent conditions have limited visits because of how wet the fields have been which makes driving across the soggy grass an almost impossibility (bring back to old Landrover!). The other reason why I haven't visited is because I'd lost the key that the farmer gave me to access the many gates that are encountered, that obstacle was soon overcome though as I went round to visit him and borrowed his!

Upon arrival the first birds encountered were a pair of Green Woodpeckers feeding in the fields, dam things were far to shy and no images attained. I drove up and parked against the side of the river, the next bird seen was a first for this site, a male Goosander! It was around 50 yards up stream and diving on a regular basis, I tried to get nearer each time it dived but after 20 minutes of employing this tactic I gave up, it was far too cute and I never did get any nearer so I went back to the car to see what else would come by.

The next showy subject was in the form of a Green Sandpiper, at first the bird was quite distant but in time it slowly moved nearer and nearer whilst feeding in the shallow water. Eventually it came close enough for me to capture a variety of images, below.

After a good time (20 minutes or so) the Sandpiper wandered off further down the river and out of reasonable distance for photography. My next "within range" bird was a pair of Grey Wagtails, great to watch as they fluttered around catching Nymphs and fly's, sadly no usable images were obtained.

Eventually my main subject, the Kingfisher finally put in an appearance, this was a pleasing sight as last year a pair used and bred on this stretch of the river but there was no way of knowing if they would be here again? So to see a single bird perched up on a post on the far bank was very encouraging indeed!  I would have been more than happy with this viewing of the single bird but my luck was really in when a second bird appeared and landed on a branch just down the river from where I was parked!

For the next 30 minutes I was rewarded with some stunning views of both the male and female Kingfisher as they posed for me. 

Female - red base to the bill


Male - almost all black bill

What made this viewing of the Kingfishers even more rewarding was they must have been nest excavating quite close by as they both had traces of mud on their bills (did you spot it in the images?). So things do look promising that this pair of Kingfishers will breed yet again on this stretch of the river, can't wait, bring on the Spring!

Thanks for stopping by, catch up again soon...............


  1. Exciting times ahead with the Kingfisher. Great news they're already excavating a nest hole. Cracking images (I did spot the mud) of the Kingfisher. I think the Green Sandpiper are equally brilliant they're such a hard bird to get close too, very skittish bird

    1. Their nest hole was 2 feet under water 2 weekends ago Doug, but now the levels have dropped they are back.

  2. Those Green Sand images are absolutely brilliant, Paul! However, they are fully matched by the Kingfisher images. I reckon you're in for a great summer season if these birds come up with the goods. Fingers crossed!!! I reckon if I found a site like this locally to me it could distract me from the owls!!

    Best wishes - - - Richard

    1. Best of luck with your new site, Cheers Richard

  3. You've done it again, some wonderful images of the kingfisher, also the green sandpiper. Like Richard my pal Derek has found a site for me, hoping for some shots soon. Regards John

  4. The Sandpiper images are brilliant mate as are the Fisher, and love the header.........

    1. Yes I too like my latest header mate, a bit different I think?