How many of you in Britain have seen this bird of prey? If you have you are a lucky bunch as unfortunately it’s not often sighted nowadays. It is a shy bird and prefers to hunt up on the high moorland and mountainous areas. It is our smallest falcon but more than makes up for its size with courage, and effective hunting skills, focussing mainly on smaller birds.
This is my first attempt at a bird of prey, apart from the Little owl and it was a bit more of a challenge for me. As usual all paper with a paper mache modelled body, paper feathers, and metal wire & paper coated talons all finished off with painted details.
The distinctive markings on its chest and other feathers require an accurate attention to detail whilst finishing the piece off with paint to give it it’s distinctive look. The beak is curved and designed to rip flesh to shreds, and those yellow talons are impressive on a relatively small bird and more than up to the job in hand. The large eyes on the side of its head are designed for almost 360 degree radius vision and miss little. A keen mean killing machine!
When I finished and mounted it, Dave said he had a double take at it when he came in and said it had real impact. I think that is a compliment.
Of course you can check out my other birds by clicking on the Etsy shop link at the top of the page.
Let me know what you think of it and give me your feedback please.
The diminutive Goldcrest
Here is my latest bird the Goldcrest, as usual created out of papermache and recycled paper. I loved working on the small detail on the head and wings of this bird, finally bringing it alive with a touch of paint to create the white light in the eye. The paint effect on the frame hopefully highlights and complements the colours of the bird. The frame measures 5” x 5”.
If you have been lucky enough to spot one of these you will understand the excitement generated by this smallest European bird.
Usually identified before sighting by its high pitched song, befitting of it’s diminutive size. Then a flitting from branch to branch activity and a rustling of leaves, alerts your senses even more.
A good pair of binoculars will be of much benefit in this particular instance, as it takes a while to concentrate your eye on this miniature blaze of green and gold colour. Hopefully you will be rewarded with spotting the distinctive orange/yellow crown which can fluff up when displaying to a mate.
There is a similar bird called the Firecrest which has an even more brightly coloured crown than the Goldcrest, but in the UK you are more likely to see the latter. It favours coniferous woods for breeding but wanders widely in winter.
So listen out for a high pitched song next time you are walking in coniferous woods and get your eyes tuned in for a special treat.
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..
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.
3D Paper Mache Bird Workshop
Sunday 8th March 1 – 4pm
Higherford Mill, Barrowford BB9 6JH
Have a fun day creating a 3d bird with paper mache and recycled magazine paper feathers. Suitable to be framed or hung as it is.
Be prepared to get your hands sticky! £25
Contact Catherine Wells 07792940598 firstname.lastname@example.org
Who can fail to be be enchanted by that small speck of a brown bird the Wren?
Long entwined in folklore and tied up in religious beliefs it is believed to have been a sacred bird to the Druids. Variously being protrayed as a sinner or a saint in the dim and distant past there is still an Irish Tradition carried out today called ‘Wren Day’ on the 26th December. Involving hunting a wren then displaying it on a decorated pole around the houses (nowadays a fake one).
I love the Latin name of the Wren, Troglodytes Troglodytes, so good they had to name it twice! Apparently it means cave dweller? Which makes it all the more appropriate for me as somehow the name Troglodyte reminds me of a giant, which is ironic considering this is one of the UK’s smallest bird. Diminutive this little one may be but tiny it’s voice isn’t. In the warmer months it always amazes me how many times I will be woken from my slumber about 5am by the ear piercing song of the wren, well not a song really just a repetitive tweet. Earlier and louder than any of the other birds, it certainly is not a bird you can ignore.
But seeing it is a different story, you may think you have seen a brown mouse quickly scurrying in the undergrowth before you have realised after a few minutes it is actually a little bird. Once you have got your eye on it, is a delight to see zipping here there and everywhere looking for tasty little morsels for dinner. Usually keeping under cover most of the time, if it does come out in the open you will get the chance to see it’s distinctive little round shape with the cocked up tail.
If we have a prolonged cold winter this bird can really suffer and sometimes their numbers can drop by 90%. Due to their size they are vulnerable to heat loss and will huddle together in a roost somewhere to keep warm in the cold months. Luckily they always seem to recover their numbers as they are one of out most common birds. But I for one never tire of seeing them in my Garden. I hope you like my little Jenny Wren on a branch with one of it’s eggs, I loved making this bird. Catherine x