Friday, March 20, 2015

Nesting Season

The birds at Fotherdale have been very busy looking for nest sites. 

I was a little alarmed when this robin decided it fancied the tyre on the back of the Landcruiser. 

Whilst I would love to let it nest there, I need my car everyday and so I moved it before the robin got too far on with its structure.

But despite the fact that I drove it 40m away to the car park outside my gallery, the robin found it and carried on building!!! I will need to set off on a longer drive later today to discourage the robin before it gets any further - otherwise this could become a very expensive nest box!

Robins will nest on or near the ground in hollows, nooks and crannies, climbing plants, hedgebanks, tree roots, log piles - anywhere that provides a concealed cavity.

But they are famous for choosing all kinds of unlikely locations. A friend of mine found a nest in the tool pockets of his shed. 

One year a robin perched on the spout of an old kettle in my garden.  Seeing it there gave me the idea for the painting below. 

I used to use the kettle to keep plant labels in, but seeing the robin so familiar with it I decided to nail it to the fence and turn it into a nest box. 

The robin took to it easily. I watched as the female built the nest, creating a cup out of dead leaves and moss and lining it with hair.

The different ways in which birds build their nests is the subject of an exhibition opening at my gallery in Thixendale, North Yorkshire, next weekend.

I'll be showing a collection of pictures of birds I painted after watching them nest in unusual sites. 

I have collected samples of different nesting materials for families to touch and have a range of nest boxes for them to put their hands into, including a nest box I made from an old tree stump for a woodpecker.

I also have nest cams bringing live feeds to a bank of TV screens in the gallery from 10 different nest boxes hidden in the garden and surrounding countryside. 

So far the boxes are occupied by a tawny owl - which has already laid two eggs - and a barn owl. A blue tit has been fussing over which nest box to choose and keeps flitting in and out of several.  And a tree sparrow has brought a few bits of moss into one, making a start on what will become a tall domed structure.

My exhibition runs from Saturday March 28th to April 26th so if you are in Yorkshire or are planning to visit come and take a look at what will surely be the most precious eggs this Easter.

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