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, 26 April 2016

Catching up, late April.......

Hi all,

Since the finding of the White Stork a couple of weeks ago (see last post) things have somewhat settled back down to the norm. The weather of late has been a bit hit and miss but now the lighter nights are with us there has been a few opportunities to get out and about.

During early April Col Green and I made a few more Barn Owl boxes, these have now been erected in some carefully selected locations, time will tell if our strategy was creditable? We have also checked a few older nest boxes, in some the usual non invited culprits have taken up squatting rights, namely Stock Doves, Squirrels, Jackdaws and Starlings. It hasn't all been bad news though, we've also got Barn Owls in three boxes and Little Owls in a couple. It is still early days and our box checking will gather momentum in a few weeks time when Col has recovered from having his new hip fitted, oh yes he's going to be a blur as he zips up and down those ladders.........

On the owl/bird watching front I've had some superb viewings at various different locations around the Leicestershire countryside, obviously owls do dominate. Now that the breeding season is upon us the male Little Owls do seem to be easier to locate than in the winter, that is if its a nice sunny windless evening! It is still very much a waiting game and not every site has owls in residence (or not ones I've seen yet?) but when a bird does show it can be amazing just how bold they can be?




I've also invested more time over the weekends with my "church owls" (featured in a couple of posts ago). Here it is very much a case of how lucky you can get? As with the majority of my owl photography I initially spend a long time (sometimes years) making observations from distance, you get to know when its a good time to visit and also when its not! You also get to know which perches the owls prefer, I then set myself up in an advantageous position and wait.............. At this site I have gone through this same routine on many occasions and come away with nothing! However, when luck is on your side you do get rewarded for all the preparation and dedication. I'd had my minds eye an image of one of the owls perched up on a headstones, I did fulfill this objective on a recent visit but at the time I was too close and the light not so good. So another few visits were made and eventually I have got nearer to what I'm trying to achieve, this next set are not the best Little Owl views/images I've ever had but I'd like to think they are a little more interesting?





 Away from the Little Owls I have also been very privileged to have seen the Osprey hunting again at a body of water in the south of the county (no not Rutland). Mostly the views are distant but occasionally it does come a little closer and an image is attained. In this next shot the prey fish that the Osprey has just caught can be clearly identified as being a Jack Pike. 


There isn't much time that elapses without me going down to the local river and parking up with a hope of seeing the Kingfishers. I think breeding has commenced here too because only the male has been seen lately, and that is not too often either.  


As we all know now is the time when the migrants start coming in to the UK, I haven't had much luck with photographing any of them yet, however this handsome Yellow Wagtail proved to be a very confining individual and as it sang its head off it allowed me to get incredibly close!


The best bird during the last few weeks has been the on off showing of a Short Eared Owl in the east of the county. I've stood for hours in eagerness of it coming out to hunt whilst at the same time questioning my sanity as I braved the dropping temperatures and cutting winds.


But the brief and fleeting evening views were well worth the wait as it hunted back and forth in front of me whilst being bathed in the glorious golden setting sun.





Without a doubt the image of the Short Eared Owl that I was most pleased with was this next one. I was very lucky with the diffused and uncluttered background that makes the bird stand out all the better. But just as it flew past it dipped its nearest wig down slightly allowing great views of the whole of its back, in great light too!


That's all for now folks, hopefully catch up again soon......................

15 comments:

  1. Hi Paul, super images yet again, right place, right time. The Little Owl on the cross appears to be giving a sermon. The Shortie images are really good, this bird is very late in leaving, saying that a Long Eared was seen at Thornton the other evening. Super blog.
    Regards John

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    1. Hi John, I'm not always in the right place at the right time, believe me!! I spend umpteen amounts of hours out in the countryside each week, and most of the time I see nothing!

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  2. Another great blog Paul,and really good images too..

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  3. A great set of images mate, but with out a shadow of a doubt the last one is magazine stuff buddy..................up the CITY

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    Replies
    1. Forget talking about the images mate, let's concentrate on the footie, UP THE CITY!!!!!!

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  4. What a fabulous collection of cracking images, Paul. Hard to pick a favourite but I think that the underwing detail on the right wing in the third SEO image does it for me!

    Keep up the good work and let's hope for some warmer weather!! - - Richard

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    1. Oh yes fingers crossed for a warm, windless spring Richard, but we know that won't happen?

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  5. Always love your pics here and on BirdGuides. I'm particularly interested in ospreys and wonder whether you've been able to read the ring on the one you've been photographing this month? I guess it's likely to have originally hatched at Rutland, as I see its Darvic ring is on the right leg (so English or Welsh). Any ring info would be of great interest, thanks!

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    1. Hi Sally, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Can't be 100% on the reading of the ring, either 03 or 08?

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    2. Thanks, Paul, will see if that tallies with any Rutland birds - hope you see it again!

      Your short-eared owls are brilliant!

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  6. Beautiful series of images .. The first of Little Owl with a wonderful light and a different and original compositions Very good work…

    Ana

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    1. Your appraisal I appreciate Ana, many thanks!

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