"The artist...is also a born adventurer. His explorations, unlike those of a tourist, are rewarded by the discovery of beauty spots unmentioned in the guide books, and with tireless curiosity and an exceptional proneness to wonderment, he will come upon objects of remarkable interest overlooked or even shunned by more disciplined observers."

Augustus John, R.A.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Peregrines Again

23rd May 2008.
Spent the day checking a couple of Peregrine sites in the south western Yorkshire Dales. Found two pairs feeding young and a pair of Ravens with five fledged young.

This female spent an hour sat on the cliff preening before feeding the young. The bird was sat in deep shade on the cliff, but the watercolour painted on the spot came out a bit pale due to the glare from the sun on the white page.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Malham Cove

From 1985 to 1998 every spring was spent studying Peregrines in the Yorkshire Dales. Gradually year by year the population increased, some sites became regularly occupied, others were used once or twice and then abandoned in favour of other crags. Malham was checked annually but remained unoccupied until 1993. These drawings were made earlier this year on 28th March. A grey day of heavy persistant drizzle, the fells disappearing into a wet in wet watercolour wash landscape. Sketched quickly during a break in the rain before the returning dampness ruined the sketch book pages.

Back home in the studio, using the field sketch above and drawings of the rock face made on previous visits I painted this watercolour.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Garden Warbler and Goosander

Spent a couple of hours this evening around the lakes at Elland Gravel Pits. I had taken the minimum of equipment with me, only binoculars, pen and sketchbook. Typically I should have taken the telescope, paints and brushes as I came upon this male Goosander resting on the riverbank. He was sat in deep shade and through binoculars, it was difficult to make out the exact shape of his head against the black on his back.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Speckled Wood Butterfly

Not the first Butterfly I've seen this year, but certainly the first one we have had in the garden. I first saw it this morning resting on a Dandelion flower in the middle of the lawn. It then spent the rest of the afternoon around one patch of sunlit yellow flowers. It didn't appear to be feeding and spent most of the time resting on the leaves rather than on the flowers. It kept its wings closed and only opened them when about to fly. It seemed quite territorial, and when a second rather tatty looking Speckled Wood turned up it immediately drove the intruder away. It's quite a surprising turn up for the garden as we are some distance from any sort of woodland, but we have been seeing odd ones for the last couple of years.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Collard Dove

0800 am this morning.
Collard Dove perched briefly in the conifer at the bottom of the garden. Another one calling from the back of the same tree, but hidden behind the foliage. This is a bird that I had hitherto ignored and haven't drawn often. But it has a subtle delicacy quite different to a Woodpigeon or Stock Dove, coloured in a very subtle, harmonious combination of warm browns, greys and buffish pinks. Saw the first Swift of the year over the garden yesterday evening as I was cutting the grass.

Saturday, 3 May 2008


2nd May 2008
An evening trip to draw Peregrines. I arrived at 5pm in time to see the female circling infront of the crag in the middle of a big flock of Jackdaws. She settled on the cliff and began preening. The sketches are drawn directly with a Rotring Art pen. Some more successfully than others!

After stooping down through the ever present Jackdaw flock she landed on the end of this dead branch lit by the evening sun.

After a while she flew back onto the cliff in the full sunlight, staying long enough to make some colour notes.