Friday, 26 October 2012

Mellow moments.

After a visit to the Norfolk coast at the end of September I collected a few ideas and sketches of some of the birds I saw and came up with these watercolour impressions. It was an interesting weekend for a number of reasons not the least of which was the open day at Holme bird observatory where we watched a ringing demonstration and the emptying of a moth trap! Cley was the highlight for me and to see seven spoonbills flying around in procession over the reserve was quite magical! Wader spectacular at Snettisham and dancing Cranes at Welney are just some of the scenes that make Norfolk so brilliant for birding! Can't wait for my next visit!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Late Summer Musings.

I have to admit that I have'nt had much time to produce any new sketches recently or at least any worthy of posting! I have a ton of ideas in my head after a recent trip to Norfolk and I am just waiting for an opportunity to get started? This past weekend I was at RSPB Rye Meads reserve helping to celebrate it's 10th birthday along with the wonderful staff and volunteers that make this one of the finest reserves in the Lea valley. I was extremely privileged to meet David Lindo, the urban birder, and take in a walk with him and some of the staff to see some of the birds that had stopped by! Common Snipe, Green Sandpiper and Little Egret and an elusive Garganey? (I missed that one). Suffice to say that David was a perfect gent and fascinating to talk to. I managed to find a photo that someone had taken in the Draper hide (Louise I think?) although you can only see the back of my head? The other photo is of myself and Lynn in front of my display taken by Christine von Hagen. Many thanks for that Christine!

Myself (standing) and David Lindo at Rye Meads.

Lynn and I at my art display. Rye Meads birthday bash 2012.

Here are a few watercolours painted earlier this year from our previous visit to Norfolk.

Purple Sandpiper.


Ringed Plovers.

And something from Dorset! A memorable holiday for all the wrong reasons? I picked up a virus and was quite ill for some time and even now have not fully recovered! The only compensation was finding four pairs of Dartford warblers on the heath in one fever filled afternoon near Wareham! By the end of the week I thought I was going to die?

Dartford Warbler. Wareham, Dorset.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


First of all I would like to say a big thank you to all the staff at RSPB RYE MEADS for helping with my art exhibition and to all the nice people who came along to view my work even though the weather was so awful most of the time! I even managed to sell some paintings and the response I got was very positive and encouraging. Here's to the next one? Whenever that might be? I have to say I found it a bit of a strain and felt quite unwell after picking up a virus a few weeks ago! The doc sent me to the hospital for some blood tests and I await the results? All in all, under the circumstances I think the exhibition was a success?
I even managed to do some sketching and although birding was out of the question, I concentrated on mammals and especialy on the reserve's local fox family. The star of the show is a vixen called 'ALICE' and she was seen most days coming to the visitor centre for sandwiches and peanuts! She has a litter of six cubs and they put on a fantastic display for all the photographers. She is especialy adept at catching rabbits and is a very good mother.
I have included here some other mammals that I saw in Hampshire at a wildlife sanctuary and although not strictly speaking 'wild', I could'nt resist sketching them! Other stuff is from the archive and I thought it worthy of showing? I hope you approve?







The Exhibition and display at Rye Meads.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Art Exhibition

My solo exhibition is titled 'WONDERFUL WETLANDS. An artist's perspective' and will take place at RYE MEADS RSPB reserve, Rye Road, Stanstead Abbotts, Hertfordshire. It runs from the weekend of SATURDAY JUNE 2ND untill SUNDAY JUNE 10TH. I hope as many people as possible will come along to view my work and visit this fantastic little reserve in the Lea valley? Rye Meads is deserving of it's status as a premier breeding site for Kingfishers and I have included a number of paintings and sketches of these exquisite little birds in my exhibition. As a taster, here are some of my recent efforts inspired by encounters with wetland birds.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Signs of Spring Migration.

Lynn and I have recently returned from a visit to Norfolk and we stayed in the delightful village of Heacham. This gave us a chance to go birding along the norfolk coast between Snettisham and Titchwell, two of our favourite reserves. Despite the occasional savage weather we did get out and about every day and we saw a good number and variety of birds. Migrants were a bit thin on the ground but behind the Heacham dunes I found up to eight Wheatears and a Ring Ousel on our last day. These birds showed well and were one of the highlights of our holiday!
A highlight of a visit to Titchwell was a group of Long-tailed ducks feeding offshore. The weather was kind enough to allow us to linger a while on the beach at low tide and get close views of many gulls and waders and on the way back to the visitors centre we had a bird of prey 'fest' with Marsh Harrier, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and a Merlin all in the sky at the same time. Visits to Ttitchwell coincided with extremes of weather ranging from a benign morning watching a water vole and listening to blackcaps to sitting out a violent storm in the island hide as the wind tried to blow us away!
We spent a day at Holme dunes walking the coastal path and it was a treat to see a pair of Stonechats flitting and scratching among the coarse scrub! Skiens of geese barked overhead and Avocets were as clumsy and quarrelsome as ever in the fresh water pools.
All in all we had a great time and on the way home visited Welney WWT reserve and topped up our birding list to over 100 species for the week. The star visitor having been a Sacred Ibis!
On my local patch I have noticed increasing numbers of Chiffchaff and have included here in my blog some sketches I made a couple of weeks ago. I hope you like? A further reminder of my forthcoming exhibition! 'WONDERFUL WETLANDS, An artist's perspective', It will be at RSPB RYE MEADS reserve in the visitor centre and will run from Sat 2nd to Sun 10th June to coincide with a series of events marking 'SPRINGWATCH'. Everyone is welcome to cast a critical eye over my work and also to take a stroll around this fantastic little wetland reserve. Entrance is free so please do come! Further information can be obtained by contacting Louise Moss on 01992 708383. I will post some samples of my work done specially for the exhibition in a future blog.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Big Freeze.

Well it finaly arrived and plunged the whole of the british isles into a mini ice age with record low temperatures! The ice and snow are only now loosening their grip in the the far north and in the hills and the mountains! Minus 16 degrees was recorded not far from where I live and we had a huge dollup of snow that was as deep as it was beautiful. Large flocks of winter thrushes descended on my patch and I was priviledged enough to see Fieldfares, Redwings and Mistle Thrushes in abundance. They provided excellent entertainment and superb sketching and photographic opportunities. I visited an ice-bound Rye Meads and got great views of a Bittern and several Common Snipe while the garden feeders were well and truly ravaged by flocks of finches. I just love the juxtaposition of shapes and forms that some birds make when feeding and so I have indulged myself unashamedly in my interpretation of a group of Redwings among crabapple trees. I hope you approve?
The Bittern showed itself well in the exceptional circumstances and was forced to seek out more open, ice free water. Not that those lucky enough to see it were complaining?
Of course, where there are flocks forced together they always attract the attention of predators and I witnessed a spectacular kill by a female Sparrowhawk right outside my living room window! She came in like a lightning bolt and took out a Collared dove that was sitting on the fence! Then disappeared! The kill was instantaneous and the victim stood no chance! A blood-stained heap of feathers lay on the ground, twitching it's last life's gasp! The death of one provided a meal for another! Such are the nature of things in the wild and I stood in awe as the beautiful huntress glided into view to claim her prize. The pitiful calls of a collared dove's mate were heart renching and went on for some time! I suppose I watched for about half an hour as the breast was plucked and consumed and then the Sparrowhawk took off, carrying her prize with her. Without sentiment and silent!
I want to leave you with a sketch of some Curlews that I am including in my display this coming June at Rye Meads from my exhibition titled 'Wonderful Wetlands'. The exhibition runs from 2nd to the 10th June 2012. Full details will be published in a future blog! Cheers for now!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Winter Wanderings.

As I write this, the snow is once again upon us! The temperatures across northern europe have plummeted to more than minus 30 degrees? At the moment where I live it is a balmy minus 8! Recently I was able to get some sketching in before the cold had strengthened it's grip and was rewarded with the sight of carpets of winter aconites stretching along the edge of an ancient ditch that borders our local golf course. A song thrush was busying itself amongst the leaf litter and melting frost and it emerged from time to time with a snail or two. Nuthatches were noisily chasing each other through the naked branches and woodpeckers rattled and drummed from high in the canopy. Once again I find myself in a paradox of winter sounds with yet just a hint of spring in the air? Have the birds changed their tune a little too early or are the long cold fingers of siberia stretching out towards us once more? Don't discard your thermals just yet!

There are Larch and yew trees on my walk some of which are of great antiquity and I often see Goldcrests scrambling among the needles in search of insects. How these tiny birds manage to survive our winters is a miracle but even after the most severe weather they always seem to bounce back? If you stand perfectly still they will pay no attention to you and carry on regardless.

I have some exciting news to announce? The RSPB have invited me to exhibit some of my paintings and sketches at their RYE MEADS reserve to coincide with the Springwatch events taking place around the country. It will be held on the weekend of June 2nd/3rd and I hope to have my work on show through to the following weekend? I will give more details in a future blog and I hope to have lots of new sketches done by then? I am also extremely pleased to tell you that Lynn has responded well to her cancer treatment and is at last gaining confidence enough to ditch the headgear and show off her gorgeous new hairstyle! I will sign off this current episode of my blog with a coulple of winter birds. A Kingfisher from the river Lea and a Goldeneye seen at Amwell nature reserve. I dedicate these to winter birders everywhere.