Friday, May 28, 2010

Tawny Chicks Fledge

The tawny owl chicks, whose parents I feed from my garden bird table, have just fledged. I made them this nest box out of an old elm tree stump. They seem to have made themselves quite at home in it and the wood will make a great backdrop for future paintings.
They are getting quite big now, although their feather's are still very fluffy. It's been great watching their little characters develop as they grow. I've named this one Bernard.. It will be September before they are ready to fend for themselves

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trade Exhibition

I'm in London at the moment on the last day of a trade exhibition. The show, PG Live, is an important one because it is the only trade show dedicated to the greeting card industry.
All the card publishers in the UK use the event, at the Business Design Centre in Islington, to showcase their products and it is the opportunity for buyers to find out what is on offer.
It's been a very sucessful event for the greeting cards that I publish featuring my paintings.
I've had some interest from the National Trust and I also think I'm close to closing a deal with a calendar company, which I hope will be sucessful.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Nuthatch Beauty

Took this last week. Did you know that nuthatches will usually walk down a tree trunk whilst foraging, whilst treecreepers walk up them?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pied Flycatchers

These pied flycatchers have been nesting in an old woodpecker hole.
I managed to get a shot of the male displaying to the female as she was collecting nesting material.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nature red in tooth and claw

Last week I spotted a buzzard's nest some 55ft up a beech tree. I knew it was there because I spotted the tell-tale sprig of pine on the woodland floor.
Does anybody out there know why buzzards decorate their nests with spruce? I think it could be to keep the nest fresh, or a natural insecticide, but if anybody knows different please let me know.
If it hadn't been for the trouble I've been having with my herniated disc, I'd have scaled the tree to have a look inside.Instead I had to contend with reminiscing over how I once watched a buzzard chick devour his sibling. There are times when the cruel reality of nature can really hit home.
Read about my memories of that experience in my monthly Yorkshire Post column, which is published this week.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Artist's dipper tip

Whilst at Grigin Farm I bumped into the wildlife artist and broadcaster Dee Doody, who is known for the work he has done to conserve red kites. As might be expected, we had a lot in common.
He told me about a place where I could see dippers and so I stopped at the spot on the way back from the farm and saw this one feeding its chicks under a bridge.
The light was fading, but I managed to get some lovely shots.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Birds of Prey Battle it Out!

After the excitment of being on the telly last night, I thought I'd go back to Wales and post some more pictures of my time at Grigin Farm watching the birds battle over scraps of meat. Here two red kites relentlessly chased this raven trying to get him to drop his food.These two shots might make potential studies for a painting I'm hoping to produce of a red kite.There were quite a few buzzards too. I couldn't believe the cheek of this red kite, actually snatching food out of one buzzard's claws.The crows taunted this buzzard and he did get quite ruffled
And these two buzzards had a bit of a battle over a scrap

Thursday, May 6, 2010

TV appearance!

Did you see me? I've just been on Look North! Here's the link in case you want to watch it.
and fast forward to my slot which is on at 21.46 mins

Arial Combat

I headed back to Grigin Farm in Mid-Wales last week for more photographs of the many many red kites that now feed there.
Mid Wales was once home to one of the last remaining red kite populations in the UK, but there has now been a population explosion thanks to feeding stations such as the one at Grigin Farm.
I was lucky enough to get these fabulous shots of the kites as they squabbled over titbits. It's fascinating to see how they will chase each other for one morsel, even though there was plenty available on the ground.
The red kite in the front here, just above the raven, has a morsel of food and the others are all chasing it.
In this shot the red kite above dropped the scrap of meat and the one below caught it middair!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Not tonight!

I watched Look North - but wasn't on. It'll probably be post-election now - I'll keep you posted!

Weather Calendar Judge

I'm going to be on TV tonight! Well, it should be tonight. Unless some drastically important breaking news shunts me out of the way, I'll be judging the pictures for BBC Look North (North East and Cumbria) Weather Calendar.
Weatherman Paul Mooney visited the gallery yesterday and spent the morning pouring over all the entries with me. It was quite a difficult decision as there were some very good pictures to choose from.
The weather calendar raises money annually for Children in Need. Last year it raised £18,000.