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Friday, 26 October 2012

Series completed ..... for now


© Sharon Whitley

Just time for one last post before we head to the hills for the next few days.... I've finished off with another often overlooked little bird ... the dunnock, or hedge sparrow -  rather scandalous little birds as they are seldom monogomous -  females will often mate with more than one male and then both males will help feed the chicks, ensuring that the chicks have an adequate supply of food, no matter who the father is!  So their lifestyle is quite colourful even if their feathers aren't!!

So that's it for the garden bird series for now - until hopefully I get some newcomers in - I've now got to decide which paintings to have made into greetings cards so if anyone out there has any ideas which would work best as cards I'd really appreciate your input.

It's looking like a wonderful day for walking tomorrow!  Til next time, have a wonderful weekend....

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Now can you tell what it is yet....?

© Sharon Whitley

This will probably be the last post for a few days as we are heading off to the hills at the weekend - firstly to the beautiful Cadair Idris in Snowdonia on Saturday and then off to the Lake District for a few days so more walking and mountain landscape themed posts will be coming up next week, hopefully with blue skies and great views!

I came home from work the other day to find that next door had someone in to cut all the trees and bushes back so it's looking quite bare by the feeders now :-((

Only one more garden bird to paint now - a dunnock  - unlessl I see any new arrivals.  

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend whatever you're doing.......bye for now.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Can you tell what it is yet?

Yes I know ...... it's a bird! I was hoping to finish this tonight after starting it late last night but my daughter has invaded my art room to do her homework! ... so it will have to wait til tomorrow now .... in the meantime though ... can you tell what type of garden bird it is from what I've painted so far ... I'm nearly finished with painting the garden birds -  only a couple more to do unless I get any newcomers arriving - I'd love to see some long tailed tits and Gary assures me that I will in time - and a bullfinch and woodpecker would be nice although unlikely I think where I live -  the elusive sparrowhawk is still keeping a low profile.  

I was appalled yesterday when my daughter rang me when she got home from school upset after witnessing some school boys shooting at starlings with a bb gun - why oh why do some kids (and adults) get their kicks from doing that sort of thing -  I just don't get it and never will.

I had a break from painting birds at the weekend to finish a pet portrait and really hoping the owners like it, it's good to get the drawing practice as I tend to do much more painting than drawing these days...

and last but not least I'd like to introduce you to another garden visitor - not a bird this time but an acrobatic grey squirrel - not as clever as Andrew's squirrel from Rambles with a camera fame as he hasn't managed to destroy any feeders yet or get at any nuts but he keeps popping over to have a go.

Acrobatic squirrel

Hope you're all having a wonderful week whatever you're doing, til next time bloggers!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Carrion Crow and Jenny Wren

Two more birds for you today to continue the series of bird paintings inspired by those that visit my garden.  Firstly the Carrion Crow


© Sharon Whitley

Crows are known for their intelligence - I love this video from the Life of Birds showing how crows use traffic to crack nuts and pedestrian crossings to collect them in saftey - brilliant!!

And another quickie I did tonight is the cute little wren - a little bird with a big voice -   Gary spotted one in my back garden last week 


© Sharon Whitley

Hope I'm not boring you too much with the garden birds!  Hope you're having a wonderful weekend....

Saturday, 20 October 2012


Robin Redbreast

© Sharon Whitley

Robins are very popular birds - most people like them - even if they're not really into birds - a robin is thought of as being so friendly and you often hear stories of them feeding from the hand  like this ...

Gary shared his sandwiches with this friendly robin when on a walk in the Lake District.

Unfortunately I've not yet been lucky enough to have a bird feeding from my hand - one day hopefully!

Robins may be friendly with us humans but they're not so nice to each other, being extremely territorial and they will attack another robin who intrudes on their territory.

And of course the robin is always associated with Christmas, which is why I tried to give this next painting a more Christmassy feel and give the impression that it's snowing by creating blooms and using a bit of salt to give it an icy cold feel - so hope that comes across.....

Frosty Robin

© Sharon Whitley

Another thing about the robin is that they will nest in the most unusual places - we had a robins nest in our BBQ a couple of years ago (at least I think they were robins - please correct me if I'm wrong anyone who knows any better!)

this last photo I took one morning before heading out for a walk - by the time I got back they had all fledged

Another thing robins are known for is their singing - this is a painting I did last Christmas of a robin in full song...

Singing Robin

© Sharon Whitley

Gary and I spent our day off visiting RSPB Conwy today where we had a lovely walk, and then spent the afternoon on the Great Orme at Llandudno where we spotted a few stonechats - there were also lots of very strong smelling feral Kashmir goats - a very pleasant and relaxing day - to see some gorgeous photos from the nature reserves pop over to Gary's blogpost about our day  -  a good mountain walk is planned for Monday somewhere in Snowdonia depending on the weather! 

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend whatever you're doing.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Finished (I think) Sparrowhawk and Martin Mere

Well here is the finished sparrowhawk painting, many thanks to Brian Rafferty for allowing me to use his beautiful photograph, my sparrowhawk is still playing games with me and keeping out of sight when I'm on the lookout!


© Sharon Whitley

As well as going on that fab walk around the Kentmere Horseshoe at the weekend as seen in the last post, Gary took me to one of his favourite places for photographing birds, WWT Martin Mere. Those of you who visit Gary's blog will have already seen these stunning photos from the day but I'm sure you won't mind another look at a couple of my favourites here as well!

Firstly this gorgeous photo of the Eider duck

....the elegant mute swan

and this beautiful juvenile in sepia

more on Gary's blog post here.  I loved Martin Mere despite feeling a bit under the weather with a rotten cold - I also got to see my first peregrine falcon in the wild which Gary managed to get a record shot of as it flew over from the fence post it had been sitting on ....

More garden bird paintings to follow - still need to paint a robin, a wren, a thrush and a carrion crow!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Kentmere Horseshoe

A walking blog post today folks!  I finally got to do a walk I've been wanting to do for quite a while, the Kentmere Horseshoe, taking in 8 Wainwright fells - I've mentioned before that a few friends of mine have completed or are planning to complete all 214 Lakeland fells that Wainwright documented in his Pictorial Guides - I don't know whether I'll ever climb them all but I'm keeping track of those that I do - just in case.....:-) - so it was quite nice to get 8 under my belt in one walk - and what a gorgeous walk it was....

Gary's done this walk many a time before - this shows most of the horseshoe, up the right hand side, to the head of the valley and down the ridge on the left back to the start, 20k (12.5 miles) and taking in 8 fells on the way, taking us 6 hours including a nice lunch stop on a rather breezy Nan Bield Pass -  a wonderful day out in the fells!

First peak Shipman Knotts 

 Holly and I on the 2nd peak of the day Kentmere Pike

Gary and I on Harter Fell

The beautiful Small Water with Haweswater beyond

Mardale Ill Bell

 The beautiful view from the Nan Bield Pass at the head of the valley down the Ill Bell Ridge 

Holly and I on Thornthwaite Crag

 Holly and I on Froswick

 A bit of cairn hugging on Ill Bell - I told my friend I'd give Ill Bell a hug! (it's her favourite fell)

and the final fell of the day - Yoke

I've not had time to do any more on the sparrowhawk over the weekend but did a little bit on him this evening so here's an update...

Hoping to get it finished in the next couple of days - and hoping for another sighting!

As always your comments are very welcome, have a wonderful day :-)

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Sparrowhawk work in progress

I've finally made a start on Brian Rafferty's Sparrowhawk photo (thanks Brian!) - Ann mentioned in my last post that she thinks my sparrowhawk is playing games with me and I think she's right - just a brief glimpse yesterday before he flew away!  - I will get a photo of him one day!!  I'm trying to put a bit of detail in this one while still keeping a fairly painterly style and after this I'll have a go at a looser, splashy version! - I'm quite liking how this is going so far and just hope I don't ruin it! - leaving this for now as it's an early start in the morning to drive up to the Lake District for a good walk - I can't wait to get out in those hills!  Have a lovely Friday everyone!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


I used to get a lot of greenfinches where I used to live but have only seen the odd one in the new place - lovely birds - I did try one before this attempt but it was a howler and it went in the bin!


© Sharon Whitley

I caught another glimpse of the sparrowhawk today, sitting on the fence next to the feeder just like last time but he must have seen me by the window and flew off straight away darn it!!!  Never mind - one more day at work then it's my day off and the weather's looking good for Friday for a nice long walk in the Lakes - can't wait!!!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


Back to the garden birds -jackdaws remind me of a Welsh nursery rhyme I used to sing at school and which I still sing now in my job working with children - Mi Welais Jac y Do - a great feel good nursery rhyme!


© Sharon Whitley

and a couple of shots of the greedy goldfinches in the garden....starting with one taken by my 12 year old daughter who gets the best view of the feeders from her bedroom window, the sunflower hearts are going down very well, having to fill them up every day.....

The next two taken by Gary

I feel like I'm not getting out for many good walks lately and hoping to get a good walk in on Friday - up in the Lake District to do the Kentmere Horseshoe, a walk I've not done before so really hoping for good views and great photos!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Red Deer and the Rugby League final

Hello bloggers - hope you've enjoyed the weekend and those in the UK hope you've enjoyed the lovely weather we've had - I'd like to say I've been out walking those hills but it was not to be this weekend - I promised my daughters I'd take them shopping for holiday clothes - I don't particularly like shopping especially when there's blue skies up above and you know the views up in the mountains are bound to be spectacular - but never mind, they'll be there other days - and my two shopaholic daughters were happy so all is good!!   Gary and I had a lovely day out on Friday at Tatton Park - a great place to watch and photograph red deer now that the rutting season has started.  There were a few testosterone filled stags about but the rut hadn't really got going although we came across a bit of play fighting........

photo by Gary Jones

We had a lovely walk through the grounds,
my photo

This stag had already rounded up a good number of hinds

photo by Gary Jones

Lots of roaring going on from the larger stags - a wonderful sound

photo by Gary Jones

and this is my favourite photo of the day - I love the backlight on this and the startled look of this young stag as we came across him walking through the trees...

photo by Gary Jones
We're hoping to go back over the next few weeks as the rut really gets going.  More photos on Gary's blog here

Saturday night we had tickets to watch the rugby Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford hoping that Warrington Wolves would take the cup but it was not to be and they were beaten by Leeds Rhinos - a great game though - so my little piece of artwork for you today has a rugby theme - although it's Rugby Union painted as my little tribute to the Wales earlier this year.

Go Wales!
 by Sharon Whitley the Rambling Artist
© Sharon Whitley

Hopefully my next post will be another bird painting - I spotted a wren this weekend - well actually it was Gary that spotted it and pointed it out to me so the little wren is now on my ever growing painting list!

Saturday, 6 October 2012


Chaffinches have always been one of my favourite garden birds - I painted a female chaffinch not long after I started this painting lark which will be 2 years in December - where has the time gone?  

Female Chaffinch
© Sharon Whitley

I did this next one last night - and the details on the wings took me a while but I wasn't happy with it - felt it was a bit boring and didn't show much character......

© Sharon Whitley

so this morning I got the paints out again and did this looser version which I prefer....and it took me a fraction of the time!  Gary prefers the boring version though so at least my time wasn't wasted. 

© Sharon Whitley

Thank you sooooo much to Brian Rafferty and Sharon Williamson for offering their gorgeous Sparrowhawk photos for me to use as references - it's really appreciated, I still haven't seen my Sparrowhawk back in the garden :-(

As always I really look forward to your comments and would be interested which of the two recent paintings you prefer - boring version or loose version lol!

Friday, 5 October 2012

WANTED! Sparrowhawk reference photo

A call out to all the wildlife bloggers out there - I'm after a good photo of a Sparrowhawk to paint as Gary doesn't have one - neither does Paint my Photo who I also use for copyright free photos so if anyone out there has a good close up photo of a Sparrowhawk they don't mind me using I'd be really grateful - and I would credit the photographer and send a print of the finished painting if you want - or you may not want it lol!

It's Friday!  My day off but no walking up mountains today, instead we're having a wildlife day, off to Tatton Park as Gary wants to get some shots of the red deer now it's rutting season.  We were going to take our bikes but there's a strap gone missing from the bike rack - very annoying!  Hoping he gets some great shots, in the meantime here's a painting I did from one of his photos of a hind which I think he took at Leighton Moss.

© Sharon Whitley

Have a fantastic Friday everyone, whatever you're doing!!!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Collared Dove and dare I say it ...... Christmas is coming!

Collared Dove

© Sharon Whitley

The latest in my garden bird series is the collared dove who I often see perched on top of one of the feeders or on the bird house

I experimented a bit with the feathers and quite like the effect.  And you may have noticed that dreaded word in today's blog post title ...........Christmas aaaaaargggghhhh!!!!!    I've just had some of my paintings from last year made into professional Christmas cards to give out to friends and family (they've been reprinted and I'm much happier with them now!!) - I'm offering them for sale to anyone who's interested at the bargain price of £1.50 each!  They are 6 x 4" and come with a white envelope and cello bag.  Here are the designs

all above images © Sharon Whitley

Just let me know if you'd like one or more - in the meantime hope you're all having a lovely day, I'm  still looking out for that Sparrowhawk in the garden but he hasn't made an appearance yet - not while I've been there anyway!