Friday, 24 January 2014

Warning: Feathery Overload!

I wanted to post this earlier in the week but had to wait to retrieve photos off a camera I've been recently loaned, been having a bit of a play with it. As mentioned previously, a local female Kestrel has been hunting regularly in the fields outside the house over the past few weeks giving me some great views. Still need a lot more practice but these are a few of my faves:

Shame not totally in focus but the colours clinched it :)
Having a preen
A closeup crop
Posing like a good 'un, such a lady!

And a few of other species over the last few days:

Handsome male Blackbird
A pair of Fieldfare
Fieldfare & Redwing in flight
Fieldfares, loads have been feeding and flitting through
An acrobatic Robin on my feeders
House Sparrers
Starling stuffing itself
Lucky shot, blurry but I like it!
Kes with a plucky Jackdaw
Pair of cock Pheasants
Still a bit of learning to do, mate's camera is a Sony DSC HX200V and quite a bit posher than my usual Fujifilm Finepix S5000!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Sheer Cliffs and Shearwaters

Made a point of getting out at first light this morning and having a stroll about the fields with my bins, saw passing flocks of Fieldfares, Lapwings and Starlings. It was pretty quiet as I left the village but as I was coming back and the early morning sun had broken through the cloud the birds were really giving it some, it felt like a fresh spring morning with the unusually mild weather and them singing their little hearts out. Got a lovely view of little flock of Bullfinches too.

I like morning silhouettes :)

But anyway, the reason I was posting today. I thought I'd draw your attention to a book a friend has written, named "Sheer Cliffs and Shearwater" A Skomer Island Journal. I was very lucky to spend two months on Skomer Island at the southern tip of Pembrokeshire in Wales as a Long Term Volunteer back in 2011. It was a fantastic experience and Dr Richard Kipling has captured the wonderful memories of the people, the flora & fauna and much more in this cracking little book. Richard was the Field Assistant over the 2011 season and responsible for much of the seabird surveying on the island including the monitoring of breeding success. A keen naturalist, Richard has a great knowledge of botany and was the first person to turn to when wanting to identify a strange or unfamiliar plant!

This book is a great read and the memories all came flooding back for me and no doubt the rest of the Skomer team, a real insight  into the day-to-day running of the island, looking after visitors and general management of the island. I would highly recommend it for any nature lover who has ever visited Skomer or has plans to, if you just have an interest in the natural history of islands or if you just love natural history! This journal is very informative and a lot of fun too :)

You can buy your own copy of the book here:

And a Facebook page has also been set up here:

As a further note, I had a lovely surprise waiting for me at the end of the book when I saw my own website get a mention which I'm very grateful to Richard for, while I was staying on the island I painted up a couple of bird identification boards to brighten up the two bird hides, they are mentioned in Sheer Cliffs and Shearwaters and here's a couple of pics too:

Resident Birds. Moorey Mere Hide, Skomer Island
 Acrylics. Donation to Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales

Resident Birds. North Pond Hide, Skomer Island
Acrylics. Donation to Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Saturday's Ringing Session 11/01/14 a.m.

First ringing session of the year, first in about 7 months for me thanks to working many weekends BUT now I am mostly free at the weekends my training can hopefully make some real progress. I recently worked out I've been dabbling in ringing for at least 6 years, bits here and there in some very beautiful places but just not regularly enough to be in with a chance of gaining my "C" permit.

Anyway, after a very chilly 40 mile ride on the motorbike to my trainer's house, I arrived for 8 as planned and a few birds were already netted, always a good sign. I was a bit rusty to begin with and the memory needed a big boost in remembering moults and ages (tea, cake & a roaring fire do help the old grey matter thaw out however!) but I soon got back into it and a great session all in all. I ringed 50 birds in total, 10 species including Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Robin and Bullfinch; a fantastic selection. We also caught 3 retrap birds, one of which was a control Goldfinch which was a bonus!

A few pics from the session:

Adult Male Lesser Redpoll
Female Bullfinch
I'll be using this blog as a bit of a visual diary for me to personally keep track of ringing sessions but hopefully others will benefit from reading it too :)

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Swan o'clock!

I had an old uni friend come to stay over the last couple of days so I took the opportunity to show her a bit of what our gorgeous county has to offer. We thought we'd take a trip to RSPB St Aidan's Reserve in Allerton Bywater. It was a pretty nice day weather wise, lots of birds about but as we'd not got as early a start as we'd have preferred we didn't walk round the whole reserve (it is quite sizeable!) Still, we were greeted by a Mute Swan family who were bulrush grazing, not an activity I'd seen before. A large number of Coot, Tufted Duck, Canada Geese and Teal were present, not to mention a couple of Great Crested Grebes which I was very chuffed to spot, they're a favourite of mine. We also had a skein of what I'm pretty sure were Pink-footed Geese fly over, it was a bit too chilly to faff about matching the honks on my mobile phone app...

Looking down onto the reserve

So after realising we were a bit peckish after a long drive and knowing we only had an hour and a half or so of good light left in the day, I suggested heading to Lin Dyke just a few miles away at RSPB Fairburn Ings Reserve. After only being in the hide a few seconds we witnessed a spectacular fight between a couple of adult swans. It was clear a male was pursuing another adult but hard to tell the sexes apart in the rapidly decreasing light. With it only being early January it seemed a bit early to be pursuing females so we figured it was probably a territorial dispute but not too sure. A few youngsters were present and the irate male actually turned on one at one point. The adult not being pursued was keen to lead the youngsters away...all made for great watching anyway, certainly better than sitting in watching rubbish soap operas! Here are a couple of shots taken from Lin Dyke hide.

A puffed up male make making a beeline

I also managed to get out for my first ringing session of the year, after not managing to get much training done in 2013 due to work commitments and a very busy trainer I'm hoping this year is going to be very different so expect to see plenty more updates on that as I progress. I will post more about Saturday morning's session another night as I'm needing to get to my bed now!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Meg's Mirrors now available online!

Meg's Mirrors to accompany my "Meg's Mugs" range. I produced these little compacts especially for my stall just before Christmas and I was very pleased to see the reaction they got.

A choice of 7 designs using my pencil drawings

Each mirror measures 58mm in diameter

Presented with a tag displaying the animal's English and Latin names

Handmade little pocket mirrors, perfect as a little treat or gift for any animal lover. A handy size to slip into your pocket, purse or bag just when you need it!
Please note: As these items are handmade they may be subject to tiny variations in drawing position.

Available to buy from my online shop here

Meg's Mugs available here

Bye for now :) x

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Early morning Kestrel

This Kestrel has been a regular visitor to the field outside the house over the last couple of weeks, this morning it's hung about for the last hour and at one point hovered right outside the bedroom window while I was applying me makeup! Once again I'm wishing I could get some more detailed shots with a posher camera but I quite like these silhouettes!

I'm also see a Sparrowhawk fairly regularly, usually being mobbed by Corvids :)

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy New Year!

So I'm really doing well with this regular-blog-writing malarky eh? Note to self: must try harder in 2014! A sort of resolution, I will try harder, really.

Well, where to start?! A very busy couple of weeks since my last post, working, walking, picture snapping, running back and forth to my printers and framers, badge & mirror making and plenty of general prep for my stall on Sunday the 22nd December. It had been nearly two years since my last stall so I needed to get my head together, gather all my display pieces and make sure I had enough stock available for the day.

The day itself went pretty well, made enough to cover costs at least which is always a bonus. I don't expect to make much money at these sort of events as my work is only going to reach out to a small proportion of folk visiting the fair but for networking purposes it's great, lovely to meet new faces :)

My badges and mirrors were a little experiment and I'm pleased to say they seemed to go down well, perfect little last minute stocking fillers and treats which was what I was hoping for. I still have a few left so they will be going up on my website shortly. Here's what my stall looked like:

At Haworth Christmas Craft Fair, Old Schoolrooms

A selection of compact mirrors & pin badges

It was quite a busy little place and there were lots of lovely stalls about, plenty of festive spirit too! I also met Katie Shelmerdine, another local artist and very talented lady. Katie's artwork is bright and uplifting, I particularly like her butterflies. Check out her website here

If you use Facebook, you might like to know I have a page on there which does get regularly updated with latest news, commissions and current projects. Here's where to find me:

This was my New Year message to all those who have supported my artwork and continue to do so!

Hi folks, wherever you are and whatever you're doing tonight I hope you have a good one! 2013 has been full of ups and downs for me but my art has kept me going, YOU lot have kept me going! So that goes for every single one of you who has liked, commented, shared, messaged, commissioned and generally passed on a good word or three about my drawings, thankyouuuu!

It's going to be a busy 2014 as I'm planning on putting my Zoology degree to good use and sort out some veterinary nurse training (something I've wanted to do for a few years) but I will still be making sure my pencilling continues and I'll need to keep them pennies rolling!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year

Meg x

I hope you all had a good one! On to bigger, better and more exciting things to come this year.

Ta-ra for now! x