Sunday, 27 July 2014

Gatekeepers nectaring on Oregano in my backgarden. These are by far the commonest butterflies in the garden at the moment. Also: Peacocks, Large White, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown.

Monday, 21 April 2014


Ring Ouzels. Branshill, Clifton. Distant views of a pair feeding as they moved steadily up the side of the hill. Also seen were a pair of Wheatears, Linnets and Red-legged Partridge. Thanks to Rob Hoare (Clifton Grove Birds.com) for the tip off. Walking back along the track I was surprised to see two female Blackbirds fighting. At one point they were locked together on the ground, only separating as I approached, one bird had a beakful of the others feathers!
More studies of the Male Ring Ouzel.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Shovellers. Wollaton lake island. A pair of Shovellers resting on submerged branches by the island. At sunset both birds stirred, preened then flew off over the lake. No other Shovellers seen today.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Jay at dusk. Wollaton. Fine, sunny day with a nip in the air and mist at dusk. This Jay watching me from the side of the path by the lake.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Heron. Wollaton. The Heronry on the island caught my attention this evening as a nest with 3 well grown chicks could be seen and heard from the bank of the lake. An adult stood guard over the chicks until its partner arrived which caused much activity in the nest as the chicks begged for food, emitting a strange clacking noise and jostling for the best position. I watched the parent regurgitate some food. After this the adult re-arranged some twigs around the nest and settled to brood the young. The temperature began to drop rapidly as the sun set. A cold wind blew across the lake.
Red Deer in various stages of shedding their antlers.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Stock Dove. Wollaton park. Inspecting a promising looking nest-hole in the top of a Sweet Chestnut.
Fallow Deer sitting in the sun. Beautiful day with Brimstone Butterflies seen in the wooded parts of the park. 
Wollaton scene with Red Deer.
The peace before the imminent arrival of the masses, their dogs and litter.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Tufted ducks. Wollaton. Got to the park early to try and see Lesser-spotted Woodpecker. I managed to see both Green and Great-spotted but the small one evaded me (I heard it call twice). The park was covered in hoar frost and looked magical in the clear light. I couldn't resist these Tufted ducks resting near the edge in almost perfect calm conditions.
Fallow deer. Went back to the park at dusk. The Fallow buck was patrolling around the herd keeping up a continuous grunting sound. I imitated this sound and he immediately looked up. Then he began rounding up the does and led them away from the intruding sound.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Kestrel. Wollaton. Got to the park for the last hour before the gates are locked. Spotted the Kestrel sitting in an Oak, watching the ground intently. It stayed for some minutes before moving on. Freezing dusk.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Treecreeper. Wollaton. Spotted a Treecreeper climbing an Alder trunk by the lake. It remained still for a few minutes (unusual for this species!) then was chivvied off by another, more boldly marked bird (male and female?) This bird remained still for a good few minutes allowing me to make sense of its feather pattern.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Kestrel. Wollaton. Sat for some time in one of the large trees bordering the park until a Magpie flew in and drove it away.
Red and Fallow Deer. Wollaton. The deer gathered around the feeding area at dusk with the ever present crows and Jackdaws. Ran out of light and time before I could put the colour washes on.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Pintail. Collingham. Strong winds meant I had to use the car as shelter as I painted these bobbing in the waves.
A selection of waterfowl on Mons Pool, Besthorpe NWT. Lots of waterfowl here including Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Goldeneye, Tufted Ducks, Gadwall, Shelduck, Coot and Grebe. Gusty strong westerly winds.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Hawfinch. Cromford. Better views this morning as 3 birds moved around the trees at the back. The bird depicted is a female. Sunny morning but freezing in the shade!
The male had a bluer beak that shone like gunmetal in the sun. He was also more richly coloured.
Hen Harrier. Near Hartington, Staffordshire. While watching Hawfinches I got a tip off about a local Hen Harrier roost. Arrived at what seemed like wild, desolate moorland in the middle of nowhere but after a while this beautiful adult male glided in. It quatered the area for some minutes before landing in the heather. Also seen were distant Ravens and two Short-eared Owls. Raw, cold wind and overcast in the afternoon. I aim to go back for more sketches.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Hawfinch. Rufford Park. Very early start to catch these elusive finches. Saw just one in the top of Lime trees before it flew off. Later, another bird was located by its 'tick-tick' call and seen briefly. Also heard were two Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers (calling and drumming). A Red Kite flew high overhead.
Kestrel. Wollaton. Saw this Kestrel fly up to a tree from the ground at dusk. Through the scope I could see it tearing at something (vole or mouse?) The Kestrel constantly changed position  as it devoured its prey. It seemed to relish every beakful and even nibbled scraps that were left stuck to the branch. It finished by cleaning its talons before taking off over the park. A numbing cold wind blew across the park and though I felt sad for the vole, I was glad the Kestrel had a good meal. Low light levels. Silhouetted.
Cleaning foot.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Herons. Wollaton. This nest halfway up an Alder on the island. Herons sometimes postured as other birds flew past. A cold shower interrupted the painting and when it passed the pair copulated on the nest. This copulation happened too quick for me to grab sketchbook!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Parrot Crossbill. Budby. A brief, distant view of a single female Parrot Crossbill sitting at the top of a small Oak bush. It called but no other Crossbills joined it.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Robin. St Leonards Drive, Wollaton. This bird is seen regularly in the same tree. I think it must be the boundary of his territory. This scene lit by streetlight as the natural light faded.
Jay. Wollaton. A Jay swooped into an Alder by the lake and began jabbing at something held in its feet.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Robin. Budby. Walking around Budby for 3 hours I managed to see a good selection of birds including Brambling, Woodlark and Green Woodpecker. However, I only managed to sketch and paint this confiding Robin as it sang a few feet away from me. It started to rain as can be seen from the painting!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Immature Kestrel. Wollaton. It sat at the top of a small Birch and watched intently a patch of dead Bracken and rough grass. Regularly see a Kestrel now on my visits to Wollaton. Also seen today a Buzzard mobbed by crows and a Sparrowhawk soaring above Thompsons wood in the lovely morning sun.
Great spotted Woodpecker. Wollaton. Lots of bird activity in Thompson's wood with Blue Tits displaying, gliding from branch to branch, butterfly-like. Singing Nuthatches and Woodpeckers drumming. This smart male flew into view and sat at the top of a tree for some time before swooping down to land next to another bird and began displaying , fanning wings and raising crest.
Fallow Deer in the sanctuary. Wollaton. The herd were in the top corner, grazing. Suddenly all heads went up as a Jay screeched. The young deer in the herd ran around wildly while the older experienced deer stood and watched. I think there may have a been a fox moving through the wood behind them.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Goosanders and Red-crested Pochard. Wollaton lake. Very strong winds across the park this evening. I found it hard to keep sketchbook steady as I stood at the edge of the lake. The birds had the right idea and swam in the shelter of Rhododendrons. The wary Goosanders saw me and swam to the far side of the lake.

Cormorant (and Coot). Sat on a tangle of submerged branches on the sheltered side of the island. A very smart looking bird and unusual to have such prolonged close views. There was no shelter for me and I found it extremely difficult to hold sketchbook steady! I moved a little too close for comfort and the bird slipped into the water and disappeared.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Goosander. Wollaton. This female slept on a submerged log among branches by the island. This is the closest view of a Goosander I've had as they are very wary birds. After 30 minutes it stretched, preened and swam to join its companions.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Wigeon and Lapwing. Bennerley marsh. Quick visit to the marsh after work. The Wigeon flock took off from the riverbank as I arrived and splashed down in the main flood pool. Lapwing were dotted about the edge. A few Golden Plover further out on the open field. All birds very distant. Freezing and overcast.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Shovellers and Black headed Gulls. Bennerley Marsh. Large flock of gulls, the Black heads in the majority, a few Common Gulls and a single Lesser Black back. The Black heads had a period of frenzied bathing while the Shovellers calmly sifted the flood pools. Large flock of Wigeon and Teal also.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Goosanders. Wollaton lake. Discovered under the island trees, once they saw me they beat a hasty retreat to the other end of the lake!
Heard a screech and saw this Jay glide into a small tree some distance away/ Quickly sketched as it sat for some minutes.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Shoveller. Wollaton lake. Four Shovellers by the island this evening as I arrived 4.30ish. They were sheltering among the submerged branches. A pair and two unattached drakes. After a few minutes the pair took off and flew across the lake followed some time later by the other drakes. Strong wind and showers.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Herons in the tops of Alders silhouetted against dusk sky. Wollaton lake island. The lower bird posstured and made lots of bill clapping noises as the bird above sat and preened.
Canada geese landing on Wollaton lake. While watching the Herons I heard the clamour of geese taking off from the south lawns behind me. They flew directly above my head and to get to the lake had to clear the stand of trees that line the lake edge. At one point it looked like a few would hit the branches but with an extra burst of flapping they skimmed the tops of the trees. One bird crashed through the fine twigs at the top which unbalanced it, though once clear, stabilized and glided gracefully down to the water.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Heron standing on its nest in the cold wind. Wollaton lake.
Sitting close on the nest.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Herons displaying and preening. Wollaton. Much of the time these birds are like statues until a bird flies over or into the colony then there is lots of posturing accompanied by screeching and bill clattering.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Black headed Gulls and Magpies flying to roost with a passing jet plane overhead. Backgarden.

Saturday, 25 January 2014