I painted this Black Grouse after we spent a few early mornings watching the lek at World's End about 20 minute drive from us in North Wales. Most mornings we were there we saw around 12 male birds lekking - I painted this from one of Gary's photos as I love wildlife photos that capture a bit of character and this one looks like he's really strutting his stuff! I took quite a few photos myself including this one of one of the birds that came fairly close to the side of the road where we watched from the car.
Another bird I love to see at this time of year is the charismatic Wheatear. This time last year we had seen so many by now but we didn't see our first one until last week at the Black Grouse lek - we've seen quite a few since though, particularly when we spent a few days walking in the Lake District. They tease us on our walks, often landing on a fence post or wall a little way ahead of us, only to hop a little further away as we approach, and then continuing in this manner for a while before eventually skittishly flying away, flashing it's white underfeathers as it goes. I managed to get a far off shot of a female World's End last week
and did this watercolour sketch of a male from a photo Gary took - I'm hoping to get a decent photo of one perched on a fence post in that typical upright postion to paint next which I'll take more time over.
We've been watching Dippers at a local river recently as well. They've been so busy nest building under a bridge but the nest has collapsed a couple of times now due to the vibration from people walking and running across! Here's one of the photos I took from our last visit there
and a painting from a photo Gary took at a Dipper we saw at Dyserth waterfall
Also, after a pretty quiet Winter in the garden, I've had a lovely variety of birds visiting over the past couple of months which is wonderful to see. Less sparrows and starlings than I used to have but an abundance of goldfinches, greenfinches and also the odd siskin and redpoll - I never tire of watching them resulting in my daughters calling me a right bird nerd!
This is a watercolour painting I did last year of a Siskin and Goldfinch in flight - it is still stretched on the art board as I still haven't decided to leave as is or add a background!
And to finish off, here's a photo that Gary took of one of the frogs in my garden pond - Gary dug the pond out for me soon after I moved in to my new house last year and it's thriving with around 5 or 6 frogs, loads of tadpoles and we even saw a newt in there yesterday - we think a smooth newt, hopefully will get some photos soon, in the meantime here is froggy giving Gary the evils as he climbs out from the depths of the pond!