Image

Fast Food Delivery

Greater Spotted Woodpecker with food for young

Fast Food Delivery

I’ve been watching a pair of great spotted woodpeckers at their nest site by the canal. They’ve been returning to the same site for many years now! The chicks are constantly calling for food, both parents busy collecting grubs in the tree canopy. They’re nervous and watchful parents with so many magpies and crows in the same area. I usually set myself up hidden behind an adjacent tree. They are still wary of me so I try not to linger too long. I wouldn’t want to be the cause of a failed nest! I captured this image of the female returning to the oak, perched on her favoured lookout branch, before delivering the meal to the noisy chicks. I’m hoping to see them soon when they start coming to the nest entrance to take the food from their parents! Fellow blogger, Spugwash, has already seen his brood popping their tufted heads up and eventually fledging from the nest. Do check out his great images, he’s a wonderful wildlife photographer! So this is my entry for Wex Mondays this week and who knows, perhaps I will have more of them for you next Monday.

Image

Keeping Up Appearances

Grey Wagtail

Keeping Up Appearances

I love watching wildlife along the Basingstoke Canal near where I live. Last week I had a delightful encounter with one of the grey wagtails that live alongside the canal. It’s the perfect habitat for them and they thrive here! I always see them on my short outings but this time I was able to get much closer than usual, getting to watch my little friend preening his feathers and singing joyfully. They’re fabulous little birds, full of character with such pretty plumage. The experience brought me so much joy, I decided that he would be the star of my entry for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge!

Image

Blue Monday: Messing About With Boats

The Blue BargeBlue Monday: Messing About With Boats

Sadly, Jeanne at Backyard Neighbor still has no internet access so we cannot share our Blue Monday posts as a group. I am still going to share these images, taken last week at the Basingstoke Canal, as part of the theme and to share my entry for Wex Mondays on Twitter. Included in the gallery is a particularly colourful blue houseboat that always makes me smile. There was a certain irony to its Hawaiian-styled design set against the frozen waters of the canal!Sunset and SmokeMany of the resident ducks were gathered near the houseboats this week as the warmth emanating from them was keeping this one stretch of water free of the ice. I have to admit that the sight of the smoke coming from the stove chimney with streamers of sunlight cutting through the tree branches gave me a rather warm feeling inside! It’s a shame that warmth did not spread to my extremities. We’ve not had any snowfall here yet but reports are looking vaguely hopeful!

Wex Monday: Creating a vintage effect

Image

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wowed By Warblers

Blackcap

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wowed By Warblers

This week I’m celebrating having seen two warblers that I have never seen or photographed before! Jubilant? You bet I am 🙂

I was alerted to the presence of both these beautiful birds by their own joyful song of Spring. This first one really took me by surprise! Only a few weeks or so before I caught sight of him I had commented on a photo by Solaner, Wordless Wednesday: Blackcap, saying how wonderful it was to see photos of a bird I have been trying to catch sight of for years! Guess what? Found him!!! The beautiful Blackcap, a member of the warbler family. Please follow the link to the RSPB site and have a listen to his song! He’s often known as the Northern Nightingale so I will dedicate these images to my long-suffering Crohn’s consultant, Dr Nightingale at St Mark’s Hospital in London. He’s a big fan of my photography and is backing a project to brighten the hospital walls with some of my floral, landscape and wildlife photos. I saw him just today and have him utterly puzzled once again over some completely unexplained abdominal pain. Tests so far suggest that it’s not a hernia, active disease or strictures! Our plan now is that next time I get an attack of severe pain that I go to my local Emergency department armed with a CT scan request form. Perhaps my bowel is getting twisted at times? It could be something completely unrelated to the Crohn’s so my local doctor has ordered an ultrasound. We’ll figure it out! Until we do I shall continue to be joyful over all the wonders of nature, especially the birds that sing so beautifully for me 🙂

 

This second songster is the rarely seen Wood Warbler. At first I had thought that it was probably the slightly more common Willow Warbler but the distinctive yellow throat gave it away! The most amazing thing about these two birds that I have never even laid eyes upon before, is that I discovered them both on local stretches of The Basingstoke Canal. Right on my doorstep! Having the opportunity to sit and study them for quite a while was such a thrill for me. Exquisite little birds with the most joyful song to match their delicate beauty. I feel utterly blessed 🙂

 

Image

Wordless Wednesday: Busy Parents

Nuthatch bring in a bee

Wordless Wednesday: Busy Parents (Gallery)

Image

Blue Monday: Canal-Side Blues and May Wildflowers

Figurehead for a Blue Barge

Blue Monday: Canal-Side Blues and May Wildflowers

Another set of blue-themed images from alongside The Basingstoke Canal. Hope you enjoy seeing them, as much as I did finding them! The two wildflower garden images are especially for Jude for her May Garden Photography Challenge: Wildflowers

Blue Monday is hosted by Jeanne at Backyard Neighbor
Smiling Sally

Image

Weekly Photo Challenge: Admiration

The Lookout

Weekly Photo Challenge: Admiration

This week Krista has asked us to depict something or someone we admire. I admire every single member of my family and all my amazing friends, so I don’t want to single any of them out! I happened to be working on a composite image of wrens when the challenge came up, so I felt it was the perfect opportunity to explain the inspiration behind the composition of the piece. The way the wren moved about on the branch was quite comical and reminded me of the work of wildlife artist, Warwick Higgs. Please have a look at his work, it’s great fun!

Sixteen years ago I was working in a gallery in Epsom. We made bespoke frames for all sorts of pieces of art, as well as selling prints, limited editions and Fine Art originals. They were some of the happiest days of my life but also some of the hardest. My Crohn’s was out of control and I went through three major operations to have a permanent stoma formed, an ileostomy. Having a place to work, if only part-time when my health allowed, gave me a real purpose and enormous satisfaction. My boss and colleagues were always supportive and understanding. It was hard for all of us when arthritic problems and fibromyalgia made it just too unsafe for me to continue working as a framer several years later.

It wasn’t just my co-workers in the gallery who gave me much needed support though! We worked closely with a number of wildlife artists who I admired very much indeed. Among them were David Sheppard CBE, Gary Hodges and Warwick Higgs. All of these artists helped us raise funds, for local and international wildlife charities, through auctions of their art at events held in the gallery. Warwick spent a lot of time with us as we framed many his originals. He also used the gallery space to hold a number of Live Art days, setting up his easel in the window space and sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with everyone who visited.

He was always very encouraging of my own art, both painting and photography. We shared a love for the observation of animal behavior, bringing some of those charismatic quirks into our work. I remember being incredibly touched when I received a handmade card and letter from Warwick whilst I was in hospital for the second of my operations. To be able to make someone feel valued is a rare gift! I will never forget his support and wish that I hadn’t lost touch with him over the years. A wonderful artist whose observation of the natural world has always produced the most delightful and fun pieces of art!