Who can admit to not getting a little heart flutter and smile, when a lovely little Jenny Wren, starts frantically darting about on the garden wall in front of you?
This little brown bundle will be intently hunting for tasty insects in the moss and crevices amongst the stones. Their pointy little beak expertly designed for the job in hand of removing spiders from the webs, so carefully constructed. Usually preferring to stay almost hidden in the undergrowth beneath well grown hedges, it’s the movement that gives it away…
All of a sudden a few leaves are being thrown about a few inches off the earthen floor, something is going in, then out of the corner or your eye you think you have spotted a little brown field mouse, busy scurrying about its daily business. Then you catch sight of it again briefly, and you see a little tail sticking up out of the back end of it. After straining your eyes to follow all the action you realise it is no mouse, it is our little manic Wren.
It also has a powerful voice that comes out of that little body, usually one of the earliest starters on bright spring mornings. This is not a bird to be ignored.
I have done a papier mache Wren before but I think this one is the best so far. When you see pictures of them close up, you suddenly become aware of all the different markings there are on their plumage that you simply cannot normally pick up on, as they simply damn don’t stay still long enough!
So this was an ideal opportunity to show off the real beauty of one of out favourite little garden birds. The paper was chosen and torn into little ‘feathers’ as usual (very little on this occasion). But it was finished off with a little more touching up of paint than usual to highlight all the subtle details. A few people visiting my studio have said they thought it was a real bird and can’t believe it’s all made out of paper, I think I will take that as a compliment.
It will get a few more admirers this weekend as we have an open weekend at Higherford Mill, Barrowford. 10th & 11th December 2016 10-4pm. lots of Artists will be opening their studios so will be lots to see and buy. I’m on the first floor at the front of the mill if you fancy visiting.
Only nature is able to take the most incrugious collection of colours and knit them together in the most harmonious way possible. Orange and blue is not a colour combination that features heavily in my home or even at all actually, even the suggestion seems a little garish in taste.
But the Nuthatch easily carries this combination off in their most beautiful plumage. A palate of creamy orange and pale slate blue arrangement works to stunning effect. Who or what this advantage was designed for we will never know, but the human eye can marvel over it none the less.
When you are next walking around your local wooded park, you may likely see one of these agile birds climbing up or down the bark of a tall tree. They have a way of arching their backs to look up whilst climbing down a tree which is quite distinctive.
The are fond of adopting old woodpecker holes to make their nests in, and will spend quite some time re modelling the front entrance with mud to make it narrower to suit their needs.
About 6 – 8 eggs are then laid by the female and both the parents will feed the young until they fledge at about 24 days. They will then still continue to support the young for about 10 days afterwards.
I love the way this bird has turned out, and with the black band across his eyes reminded of the pop star Adam Ant from the 80′ s. That’s not something that you can say very often.
This bird will be available at our exhibition in the ‘ Crafts in the Pen’ at Skipton Cattle Auction Market on the 21st and 22nd November. Please come and visit us if you can. We would love to meet you.
The Nuthatch photograph at the top of the page is one of David’s and he has started his own photoblog if you would like to check out more of his work please click here
A few weeks ago I was approached by an American lady asking if I could make her the American version of the UK Kingfisher. The Belted Kingfisher is a similar shape to ours but with slate grey markings on its back rather than the azure blue, and a white front and white band around its neck., the name I think must come from the blue or white band around its neck. Other than the different apparent markings, behaviour and habitat of the bird seems pretty similiar to the UK one, living next to rivers and lakes.
I was happy to oblige as I love creating new birds, and the Belted Kingfisher is a stunning one. I chose to make the female, as it is more colourful than the male with rusty markings on its under chest. As I get a lot of viewers to my Etsy shop I wondered if it may be wise to add more US birds in the future, apparently a lot of states have a bird as their emblem.
Although I love the birds I see locally, some of the US birds are truly awesome, the colours are so much more colourful than ours generally I think. But we have enough here to keep me busy, I want to do the green and great spotted woodpeckers next which have lovely plumage.
Anyway all went well, and the Belted Kingfisher is winging its way across the Atlantic Ocean probably as we speak. I will be taking further orders on it in the future, it takes a couple of weeks to make, on and off.
Here are some pics of work in progress and the finished item.
The finished article..
Bird Egg Coasters
I have been busy dreaming up new items to add to my Etsy shop, and realised that a lot of people may not be able to justify buying Art for arts sake.
I know how they feel as I love to buy some beautiful piece of Art work that also has a practical purpose, or useable art.
So I have been adding pieces that feature photographic copies of my originals that can be used for something other that just to be admired, hanging on the wall. David already has a range of mugs with his beautiful images of birds on them, the flying Barn Owl being particularly popular.
New coffee mugs.
I decided what is good for the goose is good for the gander so to speak. So I have done a few coffee mugs and coasters featuring some of my birds, I’m quite pleased the way they have turned out actually. I think the small garden birds look really good!
These are ideal as gifts for a house warming gift or nature lover and completely original. Of course they are also dishwasher proof.
So now you can bring the wildlife into your kitchen every time you enjoy your favourite cuppa. These are £12 + p&p from my online shop. Please click on my Etsy shop at the top of the page to order yours for Xmas.
Happy nature watching!
When we visited Orkney in May/June, we loved the different bird life we saw there, especially the seabirds around the dramatic rocky coastline.
But what we really wanted to see was the Puffins, we had done a little research and it seems these birds liked certain points on the Island more than others. The more windy and exposed the cliffs were the better it seems.
We first went to the Brough of Birsay, we had to wait for the tide to go out before we could walk over the causeway to the small Island. The ancient Viking settlement and graveyard was fascinating to walk around. Due to the safe position overlooking the shore you can see why this spot was chosen in an age where it seems battles were never far away.
Windy and exposed was certainly a feature of this rocky outcrop, where it looks like one side has sunk down whilst the other was jutting up and out into the North Sea. We battled up the hillside against the wind and walked around the top edge of the Island, where apparently the Puffins hang out on the cliff edges. After scanning the cliffs for about an hour we saw… one! Oh and a feral cat, which may or may not be connected.
The next Puffin adventure was to be the northern Island of Westray about an hours ferry ride from the mainland. We set off nice and early and first walked around some of the archaeological sites along the bay, this was brilliant as a team had had just uncovered a stone age well on the beach, still filling with Crystal clear water. Then it was off to see what we had come for, so we hopped back on the bus down to a spot on the coast known for Puffins, by this time it was very windy and starting to rain a little. There were various rocky stacks standing out from the cliff edges, and after binoculars were trained on the right spot, sure enough there were some Puffins. Not lots of them but enough, it was a joyful sight to see their clown like faces and made the weather trying to blow us over seem insignificant. Apparently the best time to see them is early in the morning or evening when the males are leaving or entering the burrow. Also, we were a little early in the month another week or so later and there are more to see, but we were happy we had met the little chappies even if it was through the binoculars.
Puffin – Westray, Orkney
So I have been keen to make my artwork into one of these birds ever since, and at the top of this page is the finished bird, it just needs its little wooden sign on the top to add yet. But I really enjoyed the process particularly the last bit where I added the details on it’s distinctive eye and beak which really brought it alive. It will be on display at a show we are doing at Scorton Village Hall, Lancashire this Sunday 23rd of August. So if you fancy coming along please do, lots of talented artisans will be there. Click here for more information.
Our last fair in Blackburn went quite well, although the rain stopped play for the first half of the day, by 2pm the Sun was shining down and the folks who had previously simply rushed past to get out of the rain now took time to browse and a few more sales were made. The other stalls were of excellent quality and all in all it was a good event with the other attractions in the town centre all adding to the vibrant market feel.
I am doing another one tomorrow Sat 18th July,so if you are in the Blackburn area do come and visit us, I will be sharing my stall with another Artist from Higherford Mill, Wendy Clark Jewellery. She makes the most wonderful silver creations using precious and semi precious stones. Please check her out online https://www.facebook.com/WendyClarkJewellery
I have been busy adding new lines to my Etsy shop, and further working with my tweed look fabric have created more purses, cushions and covered journals. The natural look of the fabric I think complements the country feel of my entire range and of course are decorated with birds, I have added a Wren and I think it looks nice, one of my favourite birds. If you need an unusual gift please check our etsy shop out at the top of the page and international delivery is available at reasonable rates.
Dave is busy processing some pics he has taken recently and I am sure will be updating them soon for your enjoyment, I particularly like some of his recent ones, but you will have to wait and see.
That’s all for now Catherine.
Broad Bodied Chaser (female)
Record temperatures around the country this week and my first sun loving Broad Bodied Chaser dragonfly (above) photographed at Lomeshaye Marsh in almost the same spot as one from last year. It would be good to see a male for comparison before the season’s finished. Also seen at the marsh were damselflies, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral butterflies, bees, wasps and many more insects, too many to name even if I could!
This mornings walk was a fairly quiet affair to start with, a Song Thrush briefly perched on a fence, the field behind giving a nice neutral backdrop.
Along the path a I spotted a vole (Field or Bank?) which had found something tasty, this was the closest I could get before it realised I was creeping up and then vanished into the drystone wall.
The highlight of this morning was a Short Eared Owl over the moor, distant at first but eventually came just a little closer.
Short Eared Owl
Rewind further back to last weekend and a Snipe was posted by the roadside, probably keeping a watchful eye over its young ones in the field. The evening light was nice but not quite coming from the right direction for a decent photograph.
Earlier that day Curlews were about and in good numbers.
Tight turn – Curlew
For me it doesn’t come much better than an encounter with a Barn Owl, I just wish it would come by in good light!
That same evening, something I’ve seen a few times but not photographed – A Sun dog, Wikipedia describe one as an “atmospheric phenonmenon”. For the following photograph I turned down the lights a little to make it slightly more vivid as when it’s exposed correctly (ish) it doesn’t show the same as with the naked eye.
And finally, I wasn’t the only one enjoying the Sun dog 🙂