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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Beautiful Barn Owl Hunting


Today we took a trip to WWT Martin Mere where we always have an enjoyable time walking around the reserve and seeing what is about.  They have up to 2000 Whooper swans who winter there each year which is normally Garys main objective for going as he enjoys taking flight shots of his favourite breed of swan.  The highlight today however was watching a barn owl hunting in the long grass at the edge of the reserve, something I've never witnessed before and so was thrilled to see.





While Gary was looking for barn owls I went for a wander and took a few photos myself

Ruff feeding amongst the Whooper Swans

Reed Bunting

Lots and lots of Shelducks around

A pair of Goldeneye

Shoveler
Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan resting



Saturday, 23 January 2016

Red Deer no. 2

The second in the red deer watercolour series to raise money for the South West Deer Rescue Centre.



and a short walk with Holly up Moel Famau earlier today - all the snow disappeared!


Tomorrow we are travelling to WWT Martin Mere, a nature reserve which I always enjoy visiting so hopefully I will have some wildlife photos to show

Red deer stag


Red Deer Stag

This is the first of a series of A5 watercolour red deer paintings which will be sold to raise money for the South West Deer Rescue Centre -  from a photo taken by Gary.


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Hold on to your dreams

At the end of last year I entered a sketchbook competition - there was a judged and a people's vote and I won the judged section with this puffin journal page




I won a lovely little A5 visual journal by Strathmore and made my first entry in it today with this kingfisher sketch  - I added a little quote that I like and may continue adding quotes and poems  that inspire me as I add more sketches to the journal



Hold on to your dreams
for if dreams die
life is a broken winged bird
that cannot fly

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Inspiration from the birds




I've written a little quote that I like on these latest bird studies - (photo taken on iphone so the quality is not great sorry!)

A bird sitting on a tree
is never afraid of the
branch breaking
because its trust is not
in the branch,
but in it's own wings


So take inspiration from the birds and see where your wings will take you!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Painting Therapy

Sometimes when you've had a long day and morale's been a bit low, it's good to spend some time doing something which you know will relax you.  I've been on a mindfulness course recently through work and it dawned on me that I already practice mindfulness in the things I love to do - art for me is a form of mindfulness and walking in nature is another.  You lose track of time, and minutes turn into hours and you find that you escape the current of thoughts, feelings and worries that can overwhelm you at times.  If I had a choice between painting nature and being out there experiencing it then I would always choose the latter - the experiences mean more to me than painting them but I can then sort of relive those experiences when I paint!

I had a bit of painting therapy this evening painting these garden birds.  I very rarely plan what I paint and don't really put that much thought into it preferring to just go with the flow  and see what happens which I suppose is quite a mindful way of painting.  I don't strive to become better at it I just paint because I love the way it makes me feel.



Monday, 18 January 2016

A wintry weekend in Galloway

Back from our weekend in Galloway and while Gary was doing his bird watching, I went to explore the area.  On Saturday I walked up a mountain called Cairnsmore of Fleet from which on a clear day you can see the Lake District and the Isle of Man - not today though - I had lovely views most of the way up but about 20 minutes before reaching the summit it clouded over and was a whiteout and I struggled at times to find the path in the snow

On the way up looking down over the Cree Estuary

No view from the summit - lots of snow though!


As I sat at the summit cairn eating my lunch it started to snow quite heavily so I headed back down, following the footsteps we'd made on the way up!

On Sunday the weather wasn't sure what it was doing so I thought I would chance going up the mountain again in the hope of getting that view from the summit - today there was lots more snow about and it felt much colder with a wind chill - yesterday there hadn't been a breath of wind.  I got about 3/4 of the way up and the cloud came down making it a whiteout again - it was also very icy so thought it best to head back down

Lots more snow than yesterday and much icier

I got to the top of this section before heading back down

I decided to visit Kiroughtree which was just a 5 minute drive away from the Cairnsmore of Fleet car park and was rewarded with some gorgeous red squirrels at the wildlife hide there - we also went on a walk around Bruntis lochs and through the forest



While I was watching and taking photos of the red squirrels, I heard a chattering and turned to see this robin perched, looking at me and chattering away as if to say - photograph me, photograph me - so I did!



Today was our last day and it was a cold, wintry, misty day - after dropping G off at the kingfisher hide on the River Tarff, I drove up to New Galloway and along Queens Way, stopping at places of interest along the way, then I drove back to Kirkudbright and had a wander around the town hoping to visit some galleries as it is known as the 'Artist's Town'  - unfortunately I wasn't able to visit any as dogs weren't allowed and I had Holly with me so I went for a wander down the River Dee and visited Tongland Bridge designed by Thomas Telford.

Loch Clatteringshaws early this morning

A young red deer in the snow

Wild goat

Murray's Monument

View from Murray's monument

Tongland Bridge
I enjoy exploring new places and Galloway is a beautiful area with lots to see and do - I'm already looking forward to my next visit!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Walking and Wildlife weekend


Sparrowhawk studies from photographs taken at a hide in Dumfries and Galloway

Gary and I are spending the weekend in Dumfries and Galloway after I bought him a weekend in a bird hide as one of his Christmas presents.   The majority of Gary's wildlife photography is taken out and about on walks around the countryside and nature reserves but occasionally he visits a wonderful set of hides run by a guy called Alan Mc Fayden in Scotland. He was bought a voucher for the same hide last year from the ladies football team he coached as a leaving present.  Alan has set up a hide where there is a resident Sparrowhawk and another where there are resident kingfishers feeding.  Food is made available for the birds and they take advantage of this and come into feed (although this is never guaranteed as they are wild birds).  I think a good thing about hides is that there is practically no disturbance (if any) to the birds.  When I dropped Gary off for the Sparrowhawk hide last year Alan invited me to spend some time in the hide before I went off to go on a planned walk and I can honestly say it was a magical experience to be in the bird's habitat with them at such close quarters and such a privilege, one of those experiences I will never forget.  A lot of patience is needed as you could be there for hours on end without seeing any sight of the bird in question but there is always lots going on as there are feeders for other birds like jays, chaffinches, tits, woodpeckers etc. You are also likely to see buzzards and red kites flying over head too and I was also thrilled to see a red squirrel taking advantage of the peanuts (a wonderful sight as these are very rare in Wales).  The Sparrowhawk hide was featured in Autumnwatch last year and here is a clip of Chris and Martin's reaction to seeing this gorgeous bird - it's worth watching if you haven't seen it before - we had a similar reaction ourselves.


So Gary will be spending the weekend bird watching and Holly and I will be walking in the glorious hills and countryside around and about. Have a wonderful weekend whatever it is you are doing. 



Thursday, 14 January 2016

A walk in the snow

When I woke this morning there was about an inch of snow on the car and I hoped I'd be able to get out for a walk after work - I wasn't sure if I'd be able to fit it in as I also had a meeting at my daughter's school but I managed to spend an hour going to Moel Famau which was covered in a lovely blanket of snow.











Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Blue Tit

I painted a little blue tit from one of my photos this evening to relax me after a long day



Monday, 11 January 2016

Offas Dyke Path

It was another lovely day weather wise today and they've been few and far between lately!  As it was my day off, I took Holly for a good walk down the Offas Dyke Path near where I live in North Wales.  The Offas Dyke Path is a long distance footpath which roughly follows the 8th century Offas Dyke which originally formed the boundary between England and Wales.  The views were fabulous today over the Vale of Clwyd and over to the snow covered mountain tops of Snowdonia. It was so good to be out.

Holly always finds a stick to carry, the bigger the better

Lovely to look over to the snow covered tops in Snowdonia

A crisp winter's day, frost still on the bench and underfuot making that lovely crunchy sound when you walk!

Looking over the Vale Clwyd, this view is constantly to the left of you when you walk down this lovely ridge




Moel Arthur on the right Penycloddiau on the left - both iron age hill forts

Dropping down into the valley near Cilcain

Back up towards Moel Famau looking down into the valley 


Oh and on another positive note I happened to weigh myself yesterday and it appears I've lost 5lb!