Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Still boxing

I decided to make the most of the good weather on Sunday and was just heading off to tend to my veg patch when I saw a group of hares boxing in the field opposite. The spectacle was too good to miss and so I downed tools and went back to the house to fetch my camera instead. People think of hares boxing only in March, hence the 'mad March hare' nickname, but they do so throughout the year.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Night out in a badger bunker

Last night I stayed the night in my badger bunker - the stars were amazing & the badgers weren't bad either. I saw 8 different adults and 3 cubs.
Mum took two of the cubs foraging up the bank to one of the sett's outposts, chittering as she went. En route, she came across the boar and they started to groom each other. The cubs continued to rive about and playing - so full of energy.
Mum decided she wanted a bit of 'me time' and deposited the cubs into the nearest hole so she could enjoy a night stroll with the boar. But the cubs were having none of it. They were wide awake & followed the pair at a distance. She carried each back to the hole with great patience, until after the 4th time of disobedience she had to give one of them a bit of a scuffle.
Temperatures plummeted to below freezing last night, so I was a bit on the cold side and I was woken up by another cub, who had accidentally popped out of a hole in the middle of the night and couldn't find his way back - he sounded like a trapped piglet. But it was certainly good fun, so I'll be back again soon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nature's most notorious trickster - The cuckoo!

It's time to listen out for nature's most cunning tricksters, which have just arrived in fresh in from Africa.
Cuckoos are notoriously parasitic, finding foster nests for its eggs and tricking other birds into raising its chicks. Favourite hosts include meadow pipits, dunnocks, pied wagtails and reed warblers. And, remarkably, different female cuckoos will target different species. One will focus on tricking dunnocks each year and lay matching bright blue eggs. Read more about the cunning cuckoo at

Monday, April 20, 2009

Farewell O L

I've been looking after a friend's tawny owl while he has been in New Zealand. He was given to me in September, when some people found him starving in Birdsall. He was clearly a captive raised bird, that had either been released or had got lost. I fed him back to health, but didn't really have the time or the space to look after him properly, as I've already got a pet barn owl 'Fern' so I gave him to my friend.

I've loved having him to stay, and he has been flown by me most nights as well as by friends and family. The youngest person to have flown him was my godson at 3 years old - talk about brave.

He's been a superb 'model' for me to photograph. Who knows when he'll pop up next in a painting!

Bees are good!

It was a still and sunny day on Sunday. So after enjoying tea and cake at Ava's christening at Copmanthorpe, I raced home so I could check on my honey bees.

This was the first time I've looked in the hive this year. I was looking to see that the colony was in good working order. I needed to
  • check the Queen was alive and well
  • and that she was laying eggs
  • I needed to see how many frames of brood (baby larva bees) there were
  • that there was sufficient honey in the top frame for them to feed from in case the weather turned bad.
  • Photo: This is what the brood looks like.

    All was in great working order, so I closed the hive back up so the bees could get back to work.Bees are in serious decline at the moment, because of Varroa and possibly because of the use of some pesticides, which make the bees more vunerable to disease. So we need more beekeepers to keep the population up. You can also help by planting flowers that bees like. Click here for more info on what's causing the decline:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Swallows at Fotherdale

Happy Easter everyone! I've seen the first swallow just up the road from my gallery. I know it's a lot later up here on the rather cooler Yorkshire Wolds than the late March/early April sightings that more southerly regions will have had - but it's bang on time for these parts. You can submit your own swallow sightings on the BBC Radio 4 Animals on the move website. Click on this link:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Penguins & the Wilkins Ice Shelf

I've been painting this pair of King Penguins this week which I photographed in Antarctica a couple of years ago and some friends, Steve, Ali, Lucy and Ged who I met on the trip came across to visit at the weekend. & so it was a suprise to see the breaking of the Wilkins ice shelf on the news last night. Read more about this story at

On my trip to Antarctica there were lots of lectures about the effects of global warming on the ice. What really stood out for me was the way in which the Antarctic continent controls the currents and temperature of the oceans. But on the news it is hard to separate out what is sensationalism and what is actual fact.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Badgers get a head start

When the sun came out this week, it began to feel, here in Yorkshire at least, like spring had finally arrived. It got me thinking about the badgers I've been watching from my new hide. They have actually had their cubs since February. The sow nurses her cubs during the coldest months of the year. Read More

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Buy British

I've never been one for politics, but this year I decided to take the plunge and dive into the ‘Buy British’ debate.

I am now branding all the prints and greetings cards that I produce with this union jack logo. I think it is important that when people buy one of my cards or prints they know that they are choosing an entirely UK product and are supporting all the jobs that go into its production.

I'm British; I paint the picture that is featured on my cards in this country; they are printed by a UK firm onto paper that is recycled in this country. Let's support each other during this time of looming hardship.
For more information on the nationwide campaign take a look at this: