Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Badger Groom

I have been watching my badger sett of late, but so far no sign of any new cubs. I have to conclude that this year their just won't be any. I think this can only be because of the extreme drought of last autumn and this spring, coupled with an extremely harsh winter. These conditions will have put such a lot of pressure on the badgers to survive that nature will have decided it wouldn't be a good time to put further strain on the clan.

However, the clan does seem to be at its most relaxed that I have ever seen. It seems without cubs there is much more time for simply enjoying the late evening sun and grooming!

So as I won't be posting any new cubs photos, I thought you might like to see a few sketches of last year's cubs from my current exhibition.

I've got another wildlife group coming for an Introduction to Wildlife Watching safari tomorrow before the exhibition opens and I've got a few sightings planned that will hopefully come off!

Monday, June 28, 2010


Isn't this chick well camoflagued? I photographed it down the road from my gallery. Tawny owl chicks are very vulnerable to predators after they fledge, so they use camoflague to keep them safe.
The gallery has been really busy over the weekend, although it did go quiet at 3pm when the England v Germany match started!
The weather has been glorious, which has certainly helped.
I led an owl safari around this area with fellow naturalist Michael Flowers which went really well. There were 14 of us in total and we saw a male little owl hunting, a barn owl being mobbed by two kestrels, a roe deer, badger and then plenty of tawny owl feeding action from my kitchen window. Even I was amazed we saw so much!
The gallery is about to open again for another day, so I'd best get busy. We've also got Driffield Photographic Society coming for a visit this evening, so I've got my work cut out!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Not camera shy

A visitor to my exhibition just told me my exhibition managed to make it into the Daily Express today click here to see it!

All set! Exhibition starts today

The originals have been hung, the flowers cut and in their vases, the worktops polished, the floors swept and the sun is shining - I'm all set and ready to go. The doors open in an hour so fingers crossed I get lots of visitors!

For more on all the wildlife events taking place and for a sneak look at all my latest paintings click here to link to my website.

Friday, June 25, 2010

We've Got Brown Signs!

My gallery is now officially an accredited visitor attraction! Nine brown signs went up on all the roads surrounding the gallery this morning - just in time for the exhibition.

This is fantastic news as the gallery is very isolated and visitors are often getting lost on the Wolds trying to find us.

If you have any problems locating it click here for directions.

Last of the Originals

Here are the last of the new originals for the exhibition, which opens tomorrow:
Roe Deer with Fawns
Oil Painting 26" x 17 1/3"

Fox Cub
Oil Painting 13 1/2" x 9 1/2"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More new originals

Managed to get all the new originals framed and up on the walls now. Here are a few more, for those of you who enjoy this sneak preview of the exhibition.

Oil Painting 9 1/4" x 11 3/4"

Barn Owl with Rope
Oil Painting
13 1/2" x 9 1/2"

Now I need to tidy up my studio, only two more days to go before the exhibition opens!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Latest Originals

Heron Portrait
Oil Painting 7"x10"
I've been hanging all my latest originals today in time for my summer exhibition, which opens on Saturday. First up was the new heron portrait, which I hope people will like.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hot off the Press

Be the first to read my latest newsletter when you click this link and see all the latest news about what is going on at the gallery.
There is an in depth article on the wildlife of New Zealand after my visit to the Otago estuary, pictured here at sunset, earlier this year, as well as lots, lots more.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book your places now

Beat the rush and be the first to book one of many exclusive wildlife events taking place at my forthcoming Wildlife Festival.

As a follower of my blog, I want to give you the chance to jump the queue and book your place now, before the exciting programme of walks is published.

Among the delights on offer are a guided tour to find marbled white butterflies, a lesson in basic birdwatching and a night owl safari. There will also be lessons on how to handle falconry and a walk with celebrated naturalist Michael Flowers to find damsel and dragonflies.

The festival takes place between June 26th and July 11th and there are wild activities taking place throughout.

To see a list of all the events taking place and to book your place follow this link or see below.

The festival will accompany my latest wild art exhibition, to which you are formally and exclusively invited. For your very own copy of my invitation simply click here, download the invite and print it off.
I do hope you can come, already it is shaping up to be one of my most exciting exhibitions yet.
Here's a full list of what's on:

Saturday 26th June
Birdwatching for Beginners with Michael Flowers; 10.30am-12.30pm & 2pm-4pm; meet in the gallery
Tickets: £7.50; booking tel: 01759 368355
Sunday 27th June
Birds of Millington Wood 9am-12pm; spot red kites and buzzards; meet at Millington Wood car park ; tickets: £2; booking tel: 01482 395321
Hawk Walk with Minster Falconry 11am-12pm; handle and fly birds of prey; meet in the gallery; tickets: £10; booking tel: 01759 368355
Live Falconry Display by Minster Falconry; 2pm; watch birds of prey soar throught the sky; meet in the gallery; free event
Owl Safari 7.30pm-10.30pm; night walk with Michael Flowers to spot owls; meet in the gallery; tickets: £7.50 ; booking tel: 01759 368355
Wednesday 30th June
Introduction to Wildlife Watching 10a; spot the clues left by wildlife with Michael Flowers; meet
in the gallery; tickets: £7.50; booking tel: 01759 368355
Saturday 3rd July
In Search of Marbled White Butterflies 10.30am-12.30pm & 2pm-4pm; meet in gallery; tickets: £7.50 tel: 01759 368355
Live Falconry Display by Minster Falconry 2pm; watch birds of prey soar throught the sky; meet in gallery; free event
In Search of the Nightjar 9pm–10.30pm; walk to find the elusive nightjar in Dalby Forest; tickets: £5; booking tel: 01751 472771
Sunday 4th July
RSPB Puffin and Gannet Boat Trip 9am-12pm; seabird spectacular from Bridlington; tickets: £15; booking tel: 01262 850959
How to be a Falconer 11am-1pm; handle and fly an array of birds of prey; meet in the gallery; tickets: £10; boking tel: 01759 368355
Owl Safari 7.30pm-10.30pm, night walk to find owls with Michael Flowers; meet in the gallery; tickets: £7.50; booking tel: 01759 368355
Wednesday 7th July
Introduction to Wildlife Watching 10am; discover the clues left by wildlife with Michael Flowers; meet in galler; tickets: £7.50; booking tel: 01759 368355
Saturday 10th July
RSPB Blacktoft Sands Bearded Tit Walk 8am-10am; search for Bearded Tits with an RSPB expert; tickets: £3 tel: 01405 704665
Live Falconry Display 2pm; watch birds of prey soar throught the sky; meet in the gallery; free event
RSPB Puffin and Gannet Boat Trip 4.30pm-7.30pm; tickets: £15 tel: 01262 850959
Owl Safari 7.30pm-10.30pm; evening walk to find owls with Michael Flowers; meet in the gallery; tickets: £7.50; booking tel: 01759 368355
Sunday 11th July
Introduction to Dragonflies and Damselflies 10.30am-12.30pm & 2pm-4pm; walk to find these wonderful insects; meet in the gallery; tickets: £7.50; booking tel: 01759 368355
Live Falconry Display 2pm; watch birds of prey soar through the sky; meet in the gallery; free event

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fox attack

There has been a lot in the news yesterday and today of a terrible incident involving a fox in London. Two nine month old twins who were sleeping upstairs in their cots appear to have been attacked by the fox, which entered the house via some open French windows.

The twins are now recovering in hospital. This is extremely unusual behaviour for a fox and I was intrigued to hear that two top wildlife experts are questioning today whether the attack was more likely to have been by a domestic pet, rather than a fox - in spite of the fact that the fox had been found in the babies bedroom shortly after the babies were heard screaming out for help.

The populations of urban foxes have soared in recent years, propelled by the amount of rubbish that accumulates on the city streets and by people feeding them. Urban foxes, unlike their rural counterparts, are no longer shy of human presence and are getting more and more confident.

I hope the twin babies recover quickly from the ordeal and I'll be interested to see how this story unfolds. I remember being warned by a South African friend when I was considering taking my own very young daughter to Africa, to be very careful. Apparently, when babies cry it sends out an irresistible distress call to predators, especially big cats, which often will rush instinctively to see what the noise is and will often be driven to attack.

I know myself if I photograph foxes, I often make a squeaking sound to draw them out of cover. What do you think?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A cutie hidden in a 'bale park'

I headed out the other night to get some muck for my vegetable patch from my dad's farm at Givendale. Near to where the muck is, there is an area in the corner of the field which had been left fallow. This in farming terms is known as a 'bale park'. A bale park is an area that farmers leave unsown, which can be used to store bales straw. Bale parks are often little wildlife hot spots. Often there are lots of low growing weeds, annual flowers and seed heads which provide food for all sorts of animals and birds. On this occasion I spotted this leveret which I guess would be about 7 weeks old. It squatted down in the weeds, so I watched for an hour hoping it would relax and I would be able to get some nice behavioural shots.

Sure enough, it eventually decided that the presence of my car was not to threatening and started to groom itself.

Next it started to nibble on the grasses and shoots in the area.

Before standing up and heading off, as the light faded.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

In the Nationals!

Well it has been a very interesting day for me today. My photograph of the sparrowhawk and woodpecker sharing a wooden post has been featured in the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and on BBC Radio 2 today!

There was an interesting story behind this photo. I was photographing birds from my hide in the garden when I saw a sparrowhawk capture this woodpecker. It was literally plucking the feathers from his back as I watched, and before I could stop myself I had jumped up and scared the sparrowhawk away. The woodpecker limped across to this nearby post to catch its breath - it was clearly in great shock. With that the sparrowhawk swooped back to see what had happened to its prey, and landed on the same post to survey the scene. What it didn't notice was that the woodpecker was directly beneath it on the post!

What a sighting, I'll certainly never get a shot like this again. A customer asked me to paint it for them, and my painting is below.