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, 25 April 2017

Blowing the cobwebs away.........

After spending most of my free time during the winter months making and erecting Barn Owl boxes and barrels I had a very welcome and overdue "owling" session last night. Although very windy (not usually conductive for finding owls) it was however very bright during the last 2 hours before sunset.

Because time was limited I edged my bets and visited a location where I had previously seen Barn Owls in similar conditions.  Once there I slowly drove around the rough grassy area hoping to chance a hunting Barn Owl, this wasn't to be the case but instead I spotted a Little Owl flying across the field and up into a tree, I was compulsed to investigate further.

I slowly drove around to where I thought it had landed only to find a very nice looking cavity about 10 feet up, but no owl! I positioned the car in an advantageous position and waited........ After a wait of around 10 minutes the owl appeared at the cavity, this offered a great photo opportunity.

It sat at the cavity for a while scanning around making sure the coast was clear before it re-emerged. Luckily right next to the tree is a sheep pen which offered a variety of different perches for it to use.


After a while the owl flew and landed on top of the Hawthorne hedge, seconds later it was joined by a second owl, not sure where this bird had been hiding?

As the sun set both owls seemed to gain more confidence and moved around from perch to perch, one of them even dropped down into the tussocky grass right in front of the car! 

Eventually I was beaten by the light and reluctantly departed, whilst driving back up the field another larger bird (presumably an owl?) was seen flying across my path and up into a tree. As I slowly approached I could see it was a Tawny Owl!!!

It sat perched high up in the tree and didn't batter an eyelid at my presence! I slowly got got out of the car and pointed the camera up at it. It was almost dark, 8:44pm, at an ISO of 2000 I could only muster a shutter speed of 1/30 of a second whilst hand holding the camera (sorry for boring those who don't know photography settings). I wasn't very hopeful of attaining a photo that was going to be usable but among the rubbish I did have this one "usable" image.   

It was a very enjoyable couple of hours with the owls, two new sites that I will surely be visiting again soon...........

Thanks for stopping by, hopefully another post soon! In the meantime if you would like to keep tabs with my day to day activity with the owls I am now posting on twitter,  @PMRiddle


Saturday, 18 February 2017


Last week I found myself working out in the Grantham area, I knew that there had been a wintering Bluethroat not too far away from where I was working and fortunately en-route between two of my planned calls. As it proved it was too much of a temptation and I made the effort to go and visit Willow Tree Fen LWT in Lincolnshire. 

So during my lunch hour I wandered down the track towards the 40 or so other birders that had already huddled together in a horseshoe shape around a small reed fringe ditch. Apparently it had been showing very well on and off all morning, but not when I arrived!

Now I'm not really one for "twitches" as some of the behavior I have witnessed in the past by so called birders/photographers has appalled me, but not this time. Everyone there seemed to be conducting themselves in quite an orderly manner, just a low hum of people chatting, no shoving and pushing for more advantageous positions and patience was the order of the day. 

I soon got chatting to the guys either side of me and they assured me that the Bluethroat would soon pop out of the reed bed and feed on the gravel track right in front of us, I hoped they would be proved right as it would be a "lifer" for me.........

After no more than five minutes out popped this first winter male, I was very lucky too as at times it came very close indeed, what a bird!

I know it must seem that I have been in hibernation recently because of the lack of posts, well I'll be back again soon to give an update on how my Barn Owl breeding programme went last year, a real success story.

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