Wednesday, 19 November 2014

New Christmas Cards & a Festive Website Offer!

'Ello 'ello 'ello!

So that time of year has zipped on round again! My new Christmas cards have arrived which I'm rather excited about, six British Wildlife designs based on past pencil drawings and printed on lovely glossy A6 cards. The lovely Rob at Knight Graphics has once again done a sterling job with the printing!

6 Wildlife Designs:
Badger, Otter, Hare, Fox, Barn Owl and Hedgehog

The reverse of each card features an enlarged, greyscaled version of the main design on the front. Supplied with red envelopes, these cards come in mixed packs of 6, 12 and 18 with 1, 2 and 3 of each design in a pack respectively. Each pack is cellophane wrapped and gift-tied.

My A5 Barn Owl and Sled Dog designs from last year are also still available to buy from my website in either a mixed pack of 6 or 6 of the same design.


Spend more than £12 on my website***, whether that be Meg's Mugs, Meg's Mirrors, cards, originals or prints and receive a free pack of pin badges!  These little treats come in two sets, Woodland or Aquatic Animals - perfect little stocking fillers!

***(Offer exclusive of postage costs)

Hurry though, this treat is only for those organised folk who can get their orders in before December! Offer finishes midnight November 30th :)

Have a browse on my online shop :)

Happy shopping!

Meg x

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Remembering the Equine Heroes of war

So this is a little surprise portrait I've been working on over the last week, I had an idea that I wanted to make my own small tribute to the thousands of horses who lost their lives while serving during the First World War. This year, 2014, is the 100th anniversary, the centenary, of Britain first entering the bloody conflict that was to see so much suffering.

Here is the finished piece:

I hoped to illustrate how horses served their masters, their determination to work, their loyalty and affection all invaluable in the hard times of conflict despite shocking conditions. These beautiful animals both fought and fell with the many millions of brave men who served their countries, transporting food and medicinal supplies to the front, pulling artillery, carrying the wounded and dying to hospital and to mount cavalry charges. Of course, in the country the Land Army were responsible for keeping the country fed by tending the land and a stirling job they did too. The soaring demand for horses was merciless with families having to give up their beloved pets to the war effort.

It would be the last time the horse would be used on such a mass scale in modern warfare.

Then there are the poppies, deliberately uncoloured to be portrayed as being both red and white, to signify remembrance in their own ways whichever be your preference. Regardless of what you think about war, the incredible bravery and courage shown by so many people and their animals should never ever be forgotten.

It is but a small tribute in a big world but I hope you like my contribution :)

We will remember them, lest we forget.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

A day at Leighton Moss

I had started to type this up a few days ago but as usual, stuff gets in the way so this is actually a post about last Sunday's trip!

As it was a lovely sunny day oop north, we decided to check out Leighton Moss, a reserve I have shamefully not managed to find the time to visit despite not living a million miles away...until Sunday. Cracking reserve belonging to the RSPB, brimming with wildlife. We'd not got there as early as I'd hoped in favour of a lie-in but getting there for 10ish we certainly weren't disappointed!

About 10 mins into the reserve walk and out pops this little fella, very curious and very happy to pose for photos! Even started chirruping away at us, I do love a Robin serenade :)

A bit of a preen...
Very tame indeed.
Heading down the Causeway we found a haven for dragonflies, more specifically Common Darters, living up to their name and darting about all over the place!

Common Darter (male)
Common Darter (male) with head cocked to the side

Not sure on this one but I think it's a Brown Hawker,
possibly newly emerged?
One of the highlights of the day, we were treated to some stunning views of a male Marsh Harrier, he landed in the reeds a couple of times and sent the ducks crazy for a little while... Not great shots as I'm still to lay my hands on an SLR but  you get the gist!

This was just before he landed in the reeds,
unbeknown to a group of ducks who sailed right past his hiding place!
And some other pics from around the reserve:

Cracking idea, the name suits it very well

A plucky pheasant

Great Egret in flight

Little Egret, spot the yellow feet!
A bathing Water Rail, in the middle of the day,
such a treat!

Redshank feeding
A hide of Twitchers! Must be the collective noun...

The Eric Morecambe Hide. And a silly Me. Eric was a keen birdwatcher
and spent most of his childhood watching wildlife in the Morecambe area.
If you get the chance to visit this reserve I highly recommend it, a great range of habitats and you are guaranteed to see a whole host of species whatever the weather or time of year.

I shall leave you with this cute picture of a certain spiky critter we found on the way home one night, moved him off the road and watched him shuffle on up someone's garden :)

Not my hands by the way!

Hoping you've all had a great weekend :)

Meg x

Saturday, 13 September 2014

A Hawker and a Highland Holiday

A little while since I last posted - unsurprisingly! - but it's been such a hectic few weeks, this last week especially. Bat surveys every night and occasionally a dawn one thrown in for good measure, reptile mat checks, habitat surveys and more. Better to be busy though I find :)

First up, some pictures from this week that you might like:

Female Common Hawker Dragonfly
What's left of a Lords-and-Ladies fruit spike
Found this newly born little mite under a reptile mat, really hoping
it's parent hadn't abandoned it!

Possible baby Field or Bank Vole
A beautiful dawn sunrise
Heading home from a dawn bat survey certainly has its perks!

A Gatekeeper from the other week :)
Managed to fit in a 4 fruit crumble too as is only polite
at this time of year

I and the other half had a weeklong camping jolly in the Highlands a fortnight ago and apart from needing to move into the van halfway through the week (high winds in a tent make for next to no sleep!) we had a grand time. We took both our SV650 motorbikes in the back of the van and camped firstly on Skye for a couple of nights before moving on the the Isle of Mull.  We wanted to have a holiday that would combine both walking and biking, I've been lucky enough to visit Skye a fair few times on the bike but not walked much of it so we camped at Glenbrittle at the foot of the Black Cuillin Mountains and headed up to Coire Lagan, a crystal blue loch at the end of a scree scramble. Great fun and we were fortunate to have the most gorgeous weather for it which made for spectacular views.

One side of the Cuillins, on the approach to Coire Lagan
Coire Lagan is Gaelic for Corrie of the Little Hollow,
although it's a pretty big hollow in my opinion!
What a view.

Mull was a first for both of us and it was well worth the trip. We'd intended to ride the 130 mile round trip of the island and typically, the only day of the week to pour with rain was this one. We carried on regardless and for 120 of the 130 miles it poured down but that didn't do much to dampen our spirits! The mountains and dramatic scenery just added to the atmosphere, it just meant I couldn't take anywhere near as many photos as I'd have liked. We did make a couple of stops though:

A delightful (and soggy) Tobermory
Calgary beach
Dramatic mountains
A Highland Coo! (naturally)

A view from very close to our camping spot, I really didn't want to leave!
And one of the best things about the week? NO MIDGES*, yes it really is possible to have a midge-free break in the land where the Haggis roam free!

*Ok well maybe one or two but Smidge kept them away. Perfick :D

Well, that's enough photos from me for now, until next time.

Meg x

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Rutland Birdfair adventures!

Once again, I've ended up posting this later than expected but better late than never as they say...

So last weekend I packed up the bike ready for plenty of birdy shenanigans at the Birdfair. I've only been the once before and only for the one day whereas this time I'd be going for both the Saturday and Sunday. Here is the mighty SV650 (or as she is affectionately known, Thump!) all set to head south.

I'd been very lucky in managing to bag a late booking for a couple of friends and I at a beautiful cottage in the sleepy village of Sudborough...but I was setting off close to rush hour and the ride down involved mostly filtering down a somewhat gridlocked M62 and A1, oh the joys! So tired when I arrived but very pleased to find a most welcoming hostess and a kettle, teabags and biscuits awaiting. Just needed to wait for the cavalry to arrive.

After a comfortable night's sleep we were looking forward to getting plenty done at the fair. The day before my friend Sarah had delivered a very special painting to the Birdlife Malta stall as it was being auctioned off to raise money for this fantastic organisation and its dedicated team of staff and volunteers. The artist is Alan Harris who is renowned for his meticulously painted pieces mostly involving birds set in beautiful landscapes. Alan is also a well known illustrator who, together with Keith Vinicombe (the author of the Helm Guide to Bird ID) was book-signing at the Fair. A very useful book indeed for any level of birder, taking a detailed look at those species which can be easily confused.

Available to buy now!

 You can see more of Alan's stunning work on his website if you click this link

Back to goings on at the Fair, lectures and events were being held throughout the day and we knew there was one we couldn't miss. Chris Packham was giving a talk on Malta - Massacre on Migration. Massively inspirational talk with a VERY packed out marquee, apparently 700 people were there, incredible. The atmosphere was amazing, such a serious message and it was fantastic to see Birdlife Malta getting the support it so rightly deserves. The ongoing Massacre is truly chilling, hundreds of migrating birds are shot for fun as they pass through the island of Malta during the spring and summer months. Chris Packham made a video blog when he went over there, you can watch the first of these by clicking here. A few pics from the talk itself, inspiring stuff.

Chris Packham with Maltese volunteer Nimrod Mifsud

Alan Harris' painting of two Montagu's Harriers on stage

Apparently the ONLY standing ovation
anyone remembers at a Birdfair

Next up - this is in between me shopping for a new pair of binoculars - Bird Brain of Britain...a quiz show which traditionally takes place every year at the Birdfair, think of it like Mastermind for birders! Four contestants are quizzed by the host on their specialist subjects. It looked bloomin' nervewracking up there and Bill Oddie certainly takes no prisoners. A great bit of fun though :D

The host, Mr Bill Oddie himself!

Many stalls and many pairs of binoculars later, I eventually settled on a fine pair that ticked all the boxes...and they'd SOLD OUT! On the Saturday! Gutted didn't quite cut it, you spend ages making a decision only to find out people have beaten you to it, most disappointing. But, I have them now, they arrived yesterday and they were well worth the wait :D

Someone did pop up trying to sell me Zeiss bins...look familiar?

Yep, Mr Simon King!

It was also a celebration for the British Trust for Ornithology, 20 years of the Breeding Bird Survey...which of course can only mean one thing...CAKE! And what a whopper, very tasty too I might add :)

A highlight to my Sunday was bumping into a fellow Twitterer who I'd not met before who congratulated me on my Gorillas being shortlisted for Wildlife Artist of the Year earlier on in the summer, such a lovely chap who made my day so thankyou Simon!

I'd left off visiting the Art Marquee until the Sunday afternoon, knowing it would be a great way to finish a busy busy weekend. Amazing work on display as always. Art popped up all over the place at the Fair as it happened, this eyecatching Osprey fashioned out of horseshoes was a particular favourite of mine, made by Nick Forryan, a farrier (naturally! :D)

And of course, the traditional art mural which progresses as the weekend unfolds, lovely to see artists at work and such different styles all on the same canvas!

It's not always about the birds you know! :)

So a fantastic weekend all in all and I've finally got round to investing in a brand spanking new pair of binoculars, can't wait to try them out in Scotland next week...Another blog post I hope!

That's all from me for now, need to take a breather after that lot!
Meg x