Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Clean

I'm looking forward to the clocks going forward tomorrow as the lighter mornings and evenings mean more time for wildlife watching.
In fact spring seems to be in the air at last. I visited my badger sett this week and found that there had been some active spring cleaning going on. Five new holes have been drawn out and there were piles of old bedding everywhere - evidence that the badgers are now active again after a long dormant winter.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Elephants on the Move

I sold my elephant painting this week. Entitled 'Elephants on the Move', it is the largest oil painting I've ever done and at 5ft x 61/2ft it's abscene has left a huge gap on the gallery wall.
It was the centrepiece of the gallery and although over the years I've had a lot of interest in it, nobody, until now, has had a home big enough to fit it in.
Although I'm glad the elephants have at last 'moved on', I shall miss them, as I always do when an original is sold.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back Trouble

I've had a bit of a blow this week which has upset my plans somewhat. The doctors have told me that I'm going to have to have major surgery on my spine.
It means that I shan't be able to go to Rwanda on Friday to photograph gorillas, as I had planned to do. I was to travel with World Primate Safaris.I slipped a disc before Christmas and unfortunately a two centimetre-long piece of the disc has broken away and is now in my spinal column.
I can't pretend I'm not bitterly disappointed as I was really looking forward to going. I have never seen gorillas in the wild before and I was hoping that this trip, which was to have been with the well-known wildlife photographer Andy Rouse, would lead to some new original paintings for my summer exhibition.

Friday, March 19, 2010

March Hares

It's the first day of spring tomorrow and time to look out for hares boxing. Hares are abundant on the Yorkshire Wolds just now, and their antics are always fascinating to watch.
For more on their curious behaviour read my Gazette & Herald article by clicking here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Forest Dwellers

On Sunday it is World Forestry Day and we are encouraged to treasure our woodlands and forests and all that dwell there.
Cropton Forest is one place that I go to see the wildlife that inhabits our forests.
But I think that our native woodlands are also very important for wildlife. This winter I was able to get close to one of Europe's most elusive birds: woodcock.These secretive woodland birds are easy enough to spot when flushed out by hunters, but very very difficult to see on the ground. The harsh winter that we have just had was, however, ideal for wildlife watching and I was able to watch a woodcock at close quarters for the first time ever.
For more on this beautiful woodland bird see my latest column in the Yorkshire Post by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More from 'Down Under'

Whilst in Otago, we went on two boating excursions. Once to fish and once to see the bird life. The fisherman who took us, Kyle, was accustomed to feeding this juvenile sea lion and so he was in the habit of following the boat around.
Despite his size, he was very friendly.
We also saw some young fur seals, pictured below.
And the bird life was spectacular. Here are some terns:
That's it from New Zealand for now. I'll leave you with a curtsey from this elegant little red billed gull.

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Zealand Bird Life

Whilst on the Otago peninsular we stayed overlooking a lovely estuary where there was lots of bird life. Including this white-faced heron.
New Zealand's kingfisher.

A black swan.

Black swans and shelduck.
A New Zealand pigeon.
And this pukeko.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Zealand

You might have been wondering why I've been a bit quiet of late. I've been to New Zealand for the last three weeks where I've been visiting my brother-in-law Richard, his wife Leanne and my new baby niece, Esme.
As well as spending lots of time with my family, I managed to sneak in a bit of wildlifing. My first stop was the Otago peninsula in South Island. The beaches were fantastic.
And hidden in the sands was some spectacular wildlife.
Sea lions haul themselves up on the beach during the day and bury themselves in the sand to keep cool.
But they are always curious in passersby.

These males enjoyed the odd tussle and fight over dominance of the females.
Also hidden in the dunes were these yellow-eyed penguins - the rarest penguin in the world.