Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Semi Finalist.

My photographic studies of a group of hares in last winter's snow have made it to the semi-finals in the country's most prestigious wildlife photography competition: the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011. Sadly this means they won't be on display in the Natural History Museum this October, but I am pleased to have made it to the second round of judging - not bad for a first attempt!

The photographs were taken during an eight-day spell of heavy snow during which I watched 51 hares group together to mate.

It really was an incredible sight.

During blizzards the hares hunkered down into the snow to brace the wind.

This picture, which I used as a study for a painting, was also a semi-finalist.And this pheasant photograph made it to the semi-finals of the 'Animal Behaviour' category.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Excited Badger Cub

Watch this very sweet badger cub setting off for his evening outing. It is so funny seeing him run round and round in circles with sheer excitment.
I videoed him from the badger hide that I built near to me. I hope to get good enough photographs here to paint from in the future and I think he'll be quite a character to capture on canvas.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wolds Secret Orchids

The orchids are out on the Yorkshire Wolds now. I photographed these alongside the very busy A166. Hundreds of people drive past them every day. I wonder if they give them as much as a second glance. There is almost an acre of wildflowers here. When the top soil was scraped off to build the road, the chalk that was left behind made a perfect habitat for them to flourish in.

I spent a little much-needed down time there just after the exhibition and watched as the insects gorged. This is a six-spot burnet moth on a common spotted orchid.

And here he is again on a southern marsh orchid I loved this harvestman taking shelter in the common spotted orchid.I managed to catch the burnet moth as he took off. The common spotted orchids are so large this year they remind me of cathedrals.
I also saw this pyramidal orchid.
And these common blue butterflies, pictured here on mouse ear hawkweed with another male flying in.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tawny Owl in Flight

I've started to experiment with a stroboscopic flash recently. It fires off a rapid series of flashes so that you can record multiple images of a moving subject in a single photograph. This picture of the tawny owl I feed outside my kitchen window was taken using it. It has to be dark to achieve this, otherwise you get a ghost effect since the background is also exposed.
You also have to get the timing right. The shot above was taken with the flash set set to fire at nine times a second.But here I had it set to go off more frequently and the owl overlaps. I watched the owl through a telescope as it sat on a post at the edge of the garden and triggered the camera with a wireless remote shutter release. The camera was set on manual with the lens at F4 and a speed of an eighth of a second.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blackbirds Fledge

We had a family of blackbirds nesting just above the front door to the gallery during the exhibition. They didn't seem to mind all the comings and goings - and we must have had nearly 3,000 people visit over the course of the fortnight!

The nest was balanced precariously on the top of my woodpile which is stacked by the door. But just as I was about to take a photograph showing how close it was, the blackbirds fledged.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How will you treat the king of your jungle on Father's Day?

If you haven't bought your Dad anything for father's day how about a greeting card featuring the king of the jungle combined with a walk to look for owls on the Yorkshire Wolds?

There are a few places left on the walk with professional birdwatcher Michael Flowers between 2pm and 4pm. To book click here. He'll be pointing out birds of prey and summer migrants.

You won't see any of these though!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Puffin Walks, Photography Talks and Summer Styling

The events we laid on during the exhibition this year have been a great success. The talk last week by landscape photographer Joe Cornish was particularly fascinating and the gallery was brimming with people wanting to see his beautiful photographs, like this one of Lindesfarm.
The puffin parade with professional birdwatcher Michael Flowers also went down a storm on Monday. Click here to read about how they got on.
Similarly Susan Nicholls' workshop on wirework sculpture last night was a hit.
There are still a few events left including gardener Gilda Brader and dress designer Jenni Palmer's talk tomorrow night on styling for a summer garden party so if you're interested click here to book.
Sadly the owl safari's are all fully booked.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tree Creepers Fledge

I saw these four fledgling tree creepers clinging onto a tree trunk the other evening. I heard them as I was on my way to visit the badger sett that I watch. They were huddled together like this ready for the night. They still depend on their parents to feed them at this stage but are no longer in the nest.

At the badger sett there were five adults and just one cheeky cub. Oddly, one of the sows had taken her two cubs away for the night. She must be feeling a little insecure. I saw her come back to the sett for a little while and dive into the burrow and then shoot back off up the hill where she must have stashed her cubs.

Let's hope she begins to feel a little more secure soon and brings the two cubs back. On the way back I looked in on the tree creepers and found them fast asleep with their heads tucked under their wings.

It was about 11.30pm and there were now five of them.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Paintings Going Like Hotcakes!

So far my summer exhibition is doing really well!
I've sold seven original paintings in the first week! This barn owl is going to Australia straight after the exhibition is over - it was bought by an Australian couple on day one! It means I'm going to have to get on with some more painting. I only actually completed seven new originals for the exhibition!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wildlife Roundup

It's still a bit soon to be offering an overview of the year but when The Yorkshire Post asked me to give them a round up of my wildlife watching year I could hardly refuse. The result, published on Saturday, which happily coincided with the opening of my summer exhibition, is a romp through the seasons picking out the remarkable way in which wildlife manages to survive despite the odds.
After a fiercely cold winter and unseasonably dry spring, kingfishers, badgers, deer and even barn owls are fighting back. Click here to read the piece.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Exhibition starts tomorrow

I'm just about ready for my exhibition which opens tomorrow. I finished this original yesterday.

It was taken from my studies of a little owl family just down the road from my gallery at Thixendale. This juvenile spent its days either hiding under a fallen downn elm log or standing on this post and calling for food from its parents.

I've also painted this barn owl for the exhibition. I've called it Barn Owl at Burdale. Burdale is about 3 miles away from my gallery and one of my favourite places to watch barn owls. I saw this beauty hunting for several hours before it landed on this post right in front of me.

I'll post some more of my paintings tomorrow if I get chance! Hopefully it'll be busy in the gallery and I'll sell lots of paintings - wish my luck!