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Monday, 30 March 2015

Wheatears and Stonechats

Studies of two of my favourite birds which we've recently had good sightings of.  Firstly it is always a thrill to see the first wheatears of the year arriving here from their wintering grounds.  Amazing little birds to fly the thousands of miles it does every year.  I'm looking forward to seeing plenty of them throughout the summer months keeping us company on our walks in the hills.

And secondly, probably high on most birdwatchers list of favourite birds, the stonechat - a bird that toughs it out here in the UK over the winter, which makes them even more endearing.  Gary and I saw them in good numbers near Conwy mountain last week which is wonderful to see.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Latest encounters in watercolour

I am still enjoying doing these wildlife studies and am starting to put together quite a collection.  Gary bought me a wonderful display book to put them in but I think I'll soon be needing another as it's almost half full. Here are the latest studies - hope you like them

Kinmel Bay - I went for a walk along the beach at Kinmel Bay with Holly who I keep under control in these places, making sure she doesn't stress out the birds.  It annoys me to see the way some irresponsible dog owners allow their dogs to go charging through huge flocks of birds, sending them all in the air in distress - no need for it.  There were lots of gulls on the beach and one of my all time favourite little waders, sanderlings who are so comical to watch like little clockwork toys scurrying along the tideline.  There were starfish on the menu with a great black back and juvenile gull both finding a tasty starfish for lunch.  It was a really cold day made colder by the fact that it poured down with rain, but the rain did make the colours of the pebbles shine which was lovely!

Avocets are one of my favourite birds to paint - such elegant waders with their upturned beaks, beautiful black markings with a touch of dark brown when you look carefully and those long blue legs - like works of art in themselves!  I counted 17 of them at Burton Mere while I was there.

Also at RSPB Burton Mere there have been good sightings of this long eared owl although  I've only seen it twice out of the 4 times I have been since it has been seen  and both times quite well hidden (the sketch on the right has been done from a previous photo that Gary took of a long eared owl.)  Wonderful to see this beautiful bird and my first sighting of one in the wild.

This next set of studies was inspired by a trip to Formby National Trust reserve where we saw a good number of red squirrels - I was surprised how varied their colours were with a few of them looking more of a dark grey than red and one was almost black.  They are obviously used to lots of people around as they came up very near to us - it was fascinating to watch them feeding and caching their food, scurrying up and down the trees and chasing each other around - they never stopped!

The latest studies I've done is of some red billed choughs which were seen at South Stack last Friday - one of the males there has started feeding from the sunflower hearts outside the cafe - apparently learned behaviour from the jackdaws.  The day after we were there we heard that guillemots and razorbills had arrived in large numbers - we were a day too early to see this spectacle so must go back soon!