Thursday, January 22, 2015

Watch the Birdie

This weekend is the RSPB annual Garden Birdwatch where everybody can get involved in a nationwide count of Britain's garden bird species. It's great fun and something I always make a point of taking part in and like to encourage others to join in with too.

This year I invited BBC Radio York to see what species I have in my garden. The bird-feeder outside my studio window was particularly busy since there is quite a covering of snow here at the moment and my feeders are one of the only sources of food available.

We saw a great many different species. It made me think about how few birds there were when I first moved to Fotherdale in 1998. There was no water source here and the garden had just two plants: a fushia and a red hot poker. There was just one pair of tree sparrows and very little else.

My wife and I poured our energy into turning the garden into a wildlife haven. The house is built on an exposed hillside and there was just 4" of top soil above hard limestone. We dug a water course and pond, planted a spinney and poured 24 tonnes of manure on to the site on to which we have planted perennials, herbs, shrubbery and even a wildlife meadow.The results are incredible. There are now 62 different species here, including rarities such as corn buntings, twite and redstart. 

And from that one breeding pair of tree sparrows there are now 35 pairs. At the end of the breeding season there can be up to 300 tree sparrows here, a species that is on the RSPB redlist!

So many of my paintings now are of birds that live in the garden. I photograph them in the shrubbery or in nesting boxes like this old kettle and then paint from the photographs.

I like to put props out in the garden that I want my models to pose on. This wren struck a beautiful pose on this old hook for me.

And here is the painting I developed from the photograph above.

And this one of a long-tailed tit gathering cobwebs to nest in also made a wonderful painting.

The story of the birds in my garden and my paintings will be told on BBC Radio York every afternoon throughout next week. Don't forget to get counting the birds in your garden this weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats for your job, your paintings are so beautiful and incredible, I like them so much.

    I would like to show you my own blog, so here it´s the link:

    In my page you´ll find some drawings with birds, but not as fantastic as yours, I think...

    It´s a blog about nature with articles of birds, of course and other things like games or drawings for kids. So hope you´ll visit it and like it too.

    Sorry for my English, I´m from Madrid (Spain). I´m learning to improve my English but I don´t speaking it very well...

    Thanks a lot for your beautiful art and your attention.