Friday, November 25, 2011

Short Eared Owls by the Humber

I finally got some shots of short eared owls that are good enough to paint from.
Over the years I have managed to get some good photographs of barn owls, tawny owls and little owls, but short eared - and long eared - owls have been missing from my portfolio.
So last week I set off to a spot just south of the Humber River where the birdwatchers on our guided walks with Michael Flowers had recently spotted 15 short eared owls. I spent two afternoons there waiting and watching.
As I watched a buzzard, a hen harrier and this marsh harrier flew by.
And then five short eared owls appeared and set upon the buzzard. They mobbed him systematically until he gave up and left their territory. Unfortunately the action was too far away to photograph.
It proved a long, cold wait but it was worth it because then the five owls began to hunt.

I had put up a branch for them while I had been waiting in the hope that one of them would perch on it and after four hours of watching this one spotted it and landed on it for a few minutes.
I snapped away as fast as I could. This will make the perfect pose for a painting.
It shook itself, and then set off again to chase away a rival.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fern's Girl

We are building a new studio where the aviary in which I used to keep my pet barn owl, Fern, was.
The work hasn't gone unnoticed. This owl used to visit Fern here nightly.
Last week I noticed some owl droppings and so I waited up one night to see who was visiting - I was delighted to see it was Fern's old girlfriend. I hadn't seen her since the spring.
She seems to have made the old haunt her home and so I've been putting mice out on the beams for her.
Trouble is now I'll feel guilty putting the new windows in!!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Raffle Winner

This is Mr & Mrs Watkins who won this picture of Hare Today Gone Tomorrow in our exhibition raffle.
Mr Watkins had been having a bad week when he got the news that he was the winner. "I am having chemotherapy treatment and on the way to the treatment yesterday the car broke down and then I heard that my daughter wasn't well.
"But today I found out that the car was alright and then I got home and heard that I had won this prize. So I think now my luck is turning!"
So glad to be involved in the upturn!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sold Out!

Sold the last edition of this print of my painting, Goldfinch on Thistle, today.
That's the 850th of an 850 print run. I'll miss seeing it in the gallery, it's always sad when they go.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pheasants' Un-seasonal Spar

Birds and animals often confuse Autumn with Spring, simply because the days are roughly the same length. But this month has been so mild there have been more than the usual mistakes.
The toads in my pond have begun croaking and I've heard plenty of small birds singing. The most conspicuous confusion, however, has been among the pheasants who have been sparring out in the fields.
I watched a pair last week. They began by walking up and down along invisible boundary lines.

They then turned and faced one another.
And, since neither backed down, began to spar.
Interestingly, when a sparrowhawk flashed overhead, they both pulled up short.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Little Owls on the School Run

As our new baby settles in it's been my job to take on the school run in the morning and I've enjoyed the outings. This morning I spotted a little owl on the way back.
Now that the leaves have started to fall from the trees more difficult birds to spot like little owls become more conspicuous.
Look out for their dumpy silhouettes in the bare branches. Little owls hunt in daylight and can be spotted looking for beetles or earth worms.
This one played hide and seek when it saw me reach for my camera.
 But it soon came out for a good look at me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Otter hunt

Visitors on our safari through Tophill Low wildlife reserve had a superb day on Sunday. They saw an otter hunting for duck.
Otter are so diffiuclt to get close to. I had a very tricky time trying to photograph one last winter for this painting.
The exhibition is going well and we've been very busy both inside and outside the gallery.
The short-eared owl safaris this week were a success with marsh harriers also spotted, despite the poor weather. Still to come are a second Tophill Low safari, a walk to find red kites and a final foray into the countryside to spot winter migrants. All are now fully booked.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bonfire Fun

Everyone always worries about their pets on bonfire night, but spare a thought for the wildlife living near you. 
We have our red kite walk taking place this afternoon between 2pm - 4pm - I'm hoping the fireworks won't have kicked off by then otherwise the roost could be affected.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Exhibition Sales

I've sold four out of the six new pictures that I painted for the exhibition.

 The red kite paintings are still to go, however.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A New Arrival

Our daughter Ruby Wren Fuller was born yesterday, a healthy 8.4lbs. A sister for Lily. And already very patient. She waited until the opening weekend of the exhibition was over, at least!

I've been writing about new arrivals such as the waxwings in my painting below for the Malton Gazette & Herald too. Click here to read my column on winter migrants in today's issue.