Thursday, May 23, 2013

Saving hedgehogs to help the State of Nation

This month I released the young hedgehogs I found in the garden last winter.
 They didn't know quite what to make of the garden and spent some time sheltered by this log!
 I found two in the garden just before the snows set in and they were so young I decided to hand rear them until they could look after themselves. After asking followers on Facebook what to call them, we chose Milligan and Teasel.
By the end of the day a Facebook follower had brought me another one!
This one was so tiny I had to get special food from the pet shop! I had to weigh it every day to make sure it was putting on weight.
I'm pleased to say all three made it through the winter and are now roaming the garden.
After reading David Attenborough's report on the State of the Nation, I feel happy to have done something to try to help one of our most endangered species.

Beautiful Barn Owls Headline Summer Exhibition.

These paintings and limited edition prints of barn owls are among a 'barn owl extravaganza' to go show at my summer exhibition, which runs from June 1-16th.
There will also be falconry, a walk to find roosting owls in Thixendale and I'm giving a talk and slideshow on how to get up close to owls at 7.30pm on June 8th.
 I've decided to go 'owl-crazy' in celebration of the fact that the barn owl population on the Yorkshire Wolds has bounced back after it was nearly wiped out during the bitter winter of 2010.
Join me for a glass of wine whilst you browse through the paintings of owls that I have watched and photographed over many years. Some of them are portraits of old friends that I nursed through that dreadful winter.
Barn owls are one of my favourite birds of prey and I have worked for years to support the population on the Wolds, feeding them during extreme weather conditions and building nest boxes for them.
I also am a founding member of the Wolds Barn Owl Group, which works to conserve these beautiful birds of prey.
Barn owls are not particularly hardy birds and the recent run of freezing, snowy winters has hit northerly populations hard. In 2010, we lost 80pc of the owls living here to the cold. I personally cared for the remaining four owls and at last their offspring has repopulated the region.
Read more about their story in the York Press here.
To find out what else is going on during the exhibition and to book on one of our many wildlife walks, talks or kids events, click here to link to my website

Friday, May 3, 2013

Getting sheep dogs back to work

This smiley-faced dog is one of the chief instructors at a York-based training centre for abandoned and unwanted border collies who will be visiting the gallery next Sunday.

He reminds me of the sheep dogs that used to work on the farm where I grew up in Givendale. They were so intelligent!
Named Nap, this old dog is missing a few teeth but still maintains an enviable work ethic. He takes new canine recruits at Border Collie Rescue under his paw, so to speak. 

The charity's uses Nap to help them assess new arrivals at the home and then gets him to help them train the young pups up accordingly.
Border collies are well known for their intelligence. The breed dates back to the raids on the Scottish Borders. Raiders would use the dogs to shepherd plundered stock back to homesteads – getting the dogs to herd the stolen flock alone so that the men could avoid the risk of risk getting caught with stolen property.

Come and meet Nap and some of his recruits from Border Collie Rescue here at TheRobert Fuller Gallery Fotherdale Farm, Thixendale YO17 9LS on Sunday 12thMay.  The talk, Border Collie – A useful dog is at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £9.50, 50% of which goes to Border Collie Rescue.
Get Tickets 

Summer Exhibition will Showcase Barn Owl Paintings

I need to get this painting of a barn owl finished in time for my summer exhibition which opens on June 1st.
 I photographed it at each stage of the process.
First I blocked in the basic background colours and positioned my owl, scarping away any unwanted textures with a scalpel.
Then I outlined the shape of the owl.
Next I put down the basic colours for the owl and build up a little more of the background.It takes a long time to add the detail and get the textured, feathered effect I want. I always paint in the direction  that the feathers lie to get this right.

I will be showcasing my barn owl paintings at the exhibition, which is open here at the gallery in Thixendale, North Yorkshire, everyday from 11am to 4.30pm.
I decided to focus on barn owls this year in celebration of the fact that they are thriving again here on the Yorkshire Wolds.
You may remember we lost nearly 80pc of the local population during the particularly harsh winter of 2010, but the surviving pairs bred last year and the year before so that we are back on course now. There's nothing quite as beautiful as a barn owl gliding across the countryside in the evening!!!