Friday, March 30, 2012

A Mad March Hare

We've all seen lambs racing around in the springtime, or those moments when dogs race round the garden at full pelt. I watched this hare have such a moment.
It was clearly enjoying the sun on its back. It raced around the field in circles, leaping in the air for joy: mud flying as it took the corners.

Then it stopped for a minute
And was off again.

Was cheering to watch!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Trip of a Lifetime

There are just three places left on my trip to the Masai Mara in August.
The exclusive safari is limited to just 12 people and we camp in luxury tents beside the Mara river where close to a million migrating wildebeest congregate before plunging across the crocodile infested waters.
It is the best place to watch this wildlife phenomena and also to spot their predators; lion, cheetah and leopard as they lay in wait.
Follow this link for more details and to read about my fantastic wildlife sightings on previous trips as well as reviews written by former guests.

Friday, March 23, 2012

John Craven interviews me for BBC Countryfile

John Craven visited the gallery today to interview me for BBC Countryfile.

 It was exciting to meet him, he is such a professional. But the subject matter was gruesome. He is investigating wildlife crime, in particular badger baiting and wanted to ask me about my role  as the key witness in a landmark trial earlier this year.
 Look out for the programme on Easter Sunday.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Territorial Blue Tit

People say robin's are fiercely territorial, but this blue tit spent a whole day attacking its own reflection in my car wing mirror.
I felt quite sorry for it!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Badger Love

I've started a new painting of a badger. It takes a week for the white paint to dry so I'll have to wait now before I can get the next coat on.

In the meantime it's good to learn that so many people like badgers as much as I do.
This piece in today's York Evening Press about the badger baiting trial I was witness to is evidence that people are still horrified by this cruel sport and that as a nation we will not tolerate it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Clouds of corn buntings

Hasn't the weather been mild? To think last week the fields were white with snow. And today temperatrues have risen to 15C!
My column in the Yorkshire Post on Saturday featured a flock of wild birds I had photographed feeding on seed heads poking through a blanket of snow.
I passed them on the school run across the Wolds. Huge numbers of corn buntings (an RSPCA red list species), linnets, bramblings, yellow hammers, even a few dozen reed buntings.

I have never seen birds in these numbers before. Their colours burst into definition as I looked through my binoculars - it was like looking through a kaleidoscope.
The farm that hosted this conservation strip has Higher Level Stewardship conservation status and had planted linseed, sunflower and millet expecially for these birds - it was certainly doing it's job and such a joy to see.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Any chance of a snow box?

There are days when my wildlife subjects are so utterly disinterested in posing for me!
I've had the image in my mind for a while now and I know it will make a cracking painting. Hare's raised on their hind legs, their front paws flailing as they box furiously; a white, snowy backdrop behind them.

But, although hares don't restrict this courting display to springtime, I still haven't captured them on camera. After nearly freezing to death in an attempt last winter, I headed out after the snow fall last week wearing warm camouflage snow gear.
 But although I did see a group of seven hares, with a female at its centre busy rebuffing their advances with swift boxes, when I got close enough for a shot decent enough to paint from a heavy fog descended.
By the time it had cleared the action was over and the hares ready for a rest!!! Read my column in the Malton Gazette & Herald this week for the full story.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Swan Special

Some days things just don't go to plan and I find I have to make the best of things. The other day I set out to Wakefield after some visitors to the gallery told me of foxes that sunbathe in a paddock behind their house.  I waited all day to see them but they didn't show.
So as not to waste the day, I stopped at Fair Burn Ings on the way home. I got there just as the sun was setting and spotted these swans.
Swans are not the most challenging subjecs to photograph but since they will pose so gracefully I took the opportunity to experiment with camera settings and exposures.
Spring is in the air and these two have begun courting. 

I liked this shot of them setting off together as they evening drew in.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Nest Box Giveaway

I had great day at Warter Primary School yesterday giving away nest boxes to the children there. I gave away 117 boxes - one for each family at the school and one for each class to put up in the school garden so that they can all watch birds nest there.
The children were all so enthusiastic about getting one it was such a joy to share that. I've already had an email from one family who put their box up as soon as they got home yesterday afternoon!
The giveaway was part of my long-term efforts to help boost bird populations across the Yorkshire Wolds and follows a similar donation to Leavening Primary School in 2010.