Nest Cameras around my Gallery at Fotherdale Farm, Thixendale, North Yorkshire
I have more than 30 hidden cameras positioned in my garden and the countryside surrounding my home and gallery so that at any one time I can watch the wildlife that visits. This network of secret cameras includes four hidden inside the nests of barn owls, tawny owls, kestrels and stoats. These relay images 24 hours a day to screens inside my gallery. I go through the footage most days and I've picked the best from each week to share with you here.
BACKGROUND TO MY NEST CAMERAS
As a wildlife artist I am constantly filming and photographing wildlife subjects for my paintings. In the past, I could only watch what was happening outside the nest of the bird I was studying. I often felt frustrated that I couldn't see what was happening once the subject disappeared inside. Now new technology means that I can see what's happening inside as well as outside! And I've been amazed by what I've learnt! I've found it so rewarding to be able to follow the stories of courtship of different species and then watch as they go on to rear their young.
With this technology I can follow their daily lives and I follow individual animals and birds. These creatures have almost become like family to me. I watch their interactions every day and follow their behaviour as they encounter different challenges.
I have cameras positioned both inside and outside the nest boxes I made so that I can watch what happens from the moment the wild creature disappears into a box. Over the years I've developed nest boxes that are not only rigged with cameras and microphones on the inside, but are also made to look beautiful on the outside. It's a bit like 'set design in the wild' since I use beautiful old tree trunks to ensure that when a bird or mammal pauses at the entrance to their nest box, I capture a photograph of them against a stunning backdrop that will eventually look beautiful in my paintings. These cameras features three of these nest boxes: one made from an old elm stump, another from an ash stump, a beech stump and one from a sycamore stump. Look out for these as the wildlife choose which to nest inside - sometimes there are vicious battles over particular ones.
The animals I watch every day are so much a part of my life that I've given many of them nicknames. I hope you enjoy following their stories as much as I do - and enjoy the portraits I paint of them! Why not also visit my gallery in Thixendale where you can see the paintings and watch the cameras live on screens.