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Wildlife Photo of the Week: Autumn 2018

Welcome to ‘Wildlife Photo of the Week’ where I share the best of the photographic studies that inspire my paintings. Each week I select one & relate the story behind the picture. If you feel inspired by a subject feel free to get in touch – I paint private commissions and am happy to discuss possible compositions. My number is 01759 368355 or email me on

To look back at my spring, summer and winter selections follow these links: Winter 2018 | Spring 2018 | Summer 2018

December 22nd 2018

Christmas Robin

Wildlife photo of the week

wildlife photo of the week

I love how birds fluff up their feathers to keep warm in winter. I noticed this robin perched on some plant pots and decided to leave some mealworms out for it. Click on the second image above to watch it dive in and retreive one.

Click here to read more about how birds keep warm in winter.

December 14th 2018

Sweet Seal Pups

Wildlife photo of the week 

wildlife photo of the week seal pup

Now is the time to see seal pups. Grey seals amass on beaches along England’s east coast each winter to give birth. Their pups are born with white fur, which they shed once they are mature enough to fend for themselves. The nearest beach for people living in Yorkshire to see this wildlife spectacle is at Donna Nook in Lincolnshire.

Click here to read more about watching seals here. 


December 7th 2018

Pheasant Patrol

Wildlife photo of the week

pheasant wildlife photo of the week

Pheasants are at their best right now. Their feathers are in peak condition and the luminous red-brown of their plumage stands out against the dull of the countryside in winter. Watch out for males fighting over territory. They patrol invisible boundaries and you often see two walking in parallel, flashing their tales and beating their wings in warning. If one crosses into the other’s territory, vicious battles ensue.


December 1st 2018

Live Christmas Decorations

Wildlife photo of the week 


wildife photo of the week live christmas decorations

In winter evenings flocks of pied wagtails roost above the heads of shoppers at York’s Christmas Market. Drawn by the warmth generated by the lights of this ancient city, and by the insects that are also drawn by this heat, these small black and white birds are a gregarious lot. They flit about, chittering noisily and wagging their long tails in a huge communal gathering before settling down to roost as darkness falls. At first glance they look like Christmas decorations hanging in the trees.

Click here to read about the day I watched a sparrowhawk spook the pied wagtail roost above York Christmas market

Trees above York’s Christmas Market decorated with live birds.


November 23rd 2018

Woodcock Moon

Wildlife photo of the week

Tonight’s full moon is traditionally known as a ‘woodcock’ moon, when  1,000s of these woodland birds are said to arrive each year from as far afield as Siberia. It was once thought that woodcock would wait for moonlit nights before crossing the North Sea in large numbers and their arrival along the east coast of Yorkshire is often described as a ‘fall’ of woodcock. The reality is that these secretive birds do migrate here to escape harsh winters in northern Europe and they are often more visible along the east coast shortly after they have made their arduous crossing.

Click here to read about the time I watched woodcock and see the painting this photo inspired. 

Winter Wildlife: How heavy snow brought one of Europe’s most elusive birds, the woodcock, out of hiding

November 18th 2018

Tawny Owls

Wildlife photo of the week


wildlife photo of the week tawny owl

The tawny’s well-known “twit-twoo” is made by a pair of owls calling in harmony. The “kewick” of the female is answered by the “whoo” of the male, so that together they make a kewick-whoo or twit-twoo sound. Members of the public are being asked to listen out for the sound for a study prompted by concerns that the birds are in decline.

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is asking people to listen and report calling tawny owls in their garden, local park or piece of woodland this winter. To take part click here.

Click here to read my blog post on why tawny owls hoot loudest at this time of year

Wildlife in Winter: Why Owls Hoot Loudest in Autumn

November  12th  2018


Wildlife photo of the week


Wildlife photo of the week, wren


Britain’s second smallest bird, a wren weighs about the same as a pound coin. This means staying alive in harsh winters can be a challenge. A wren needs to eat 20pc of its body weight a day, just to keep warm. Often wrens will huddle up together at night to share body heat, which is unusual behaviour for this normally territorial bird. Gardeners can help by offering meal worms on their bird tables. Every year a pair of wrens nest in my porch. I have painted their portraits many times.

Click here to read about how I encouraged the wrens to nest in my porch and see the pictures I painted of them

Looking after a family of wrens in my garden

November 2nd 2018

Robin Redbreast

Wildlife photo of the week 


wildlife photo of the week robin

Robins are one of the few garden birds that are still singing in winter. I have at least two resident pairs here at Fotherdale Farm and their beautiful colouring and tuneful song brighten up the garden at this time of year. This month I will be holding an exhibition of paintings of the wildlife I have watched from my doorstep here in Thixendale to celebrate my 20th year here. The event, which opens on November 10th, includes paintings of the robins of Fotherdale Farm.

Painting the wildlife on my doorstep: an artist on the Yorkshire Wolds

October 26th 2018

Red Stag

Wildlife photo of the week


wildlife photo of the week red stag

Now is the time to see the deer rut, when red deer stags lock horns for dominance over hinds. Before a fight, males will walk in parallel lines to one another bellowing their aggression and the countryside rings out to the roar of these magnificent beasts. This dramatic behaviour is essentially a show of strength. The males also try to attract females by scooping up weeds and grasses with their antlers and brandishing these ‘decorations’ with pride. You can see this wildlife spectacle at Studley Royal near Ripon, North Yorkshire. Cick here to read about the time I followed a red stag on my hands and knees through the Scottish Highlands for a photograph.

Stalking a red stag with a camera


October 19th 2018

Stoat Leap

Wildlife photo of the week


wildlife photo of the week stoat

Small, slim and secretive, stoats are difficult to spot in the wild. Although common, these ferocious predators slip through the undergrowth so fast that few people have ever seen more than a glimpse of one. The secret to their success is their speed and agility. These tiny creatures are mainly found hunting on the ground , but they are just as adept at climbing and can leap from tree to tree with the agility of a squirrel. Click here to read about how I made an obstacle course to test out the climbing skills of a stoat in my garden so that I could learn more about this little-known mammal and see the paintings this experience inspired.

Weasels and Stoats – Mustelids and Me


October 12th 2018

Short Eared Owl Migration

Wildlife photo of the week 


wildlife photo of the week short eared owl

The autumn bird migration has begun in earnest. Now and over the next month or so we can expect an influx of birds from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe to our shores. These include short eared owls that have flown here from Norway and Sweden to escape the cold. These beautiful buff-coloured birds of prey are easy to spot because unlike most owls, they hunt in daylight. Look out for them hunting in groups over rough grassland. Click here to read my blog post on the best places to see short eared owls and when to look for them.

How to spot short eared owls & where to go to see them



October 5th 2018


Wildlife photo of the week


wildlife photo of the week bullfinch

The hedgerows are ablaze with jewel-bright berries now. Hawthorns hang heavy with ruby-red clusters, wild roses sag under the weight of shiny hips, and sloes twinkle out from the dark of blackthorn bushes. This year’s abundance is a direct response to the long, dry summer. Plants react to the prolonged stress of a lack of water by offering their very best; as if the glut might be their last. I photographed this bullfinch making the most of the abundance. Click here to read how I planted my garden to attract bullfinches and what you can do to get them in your garden.

How to get bullfinches in your garden: 5 things to do to attract these beautiful birds


September 28th 2018

Red Squirrel

Wildlife photo of the week

wildlife photo of the week

Red squirrels need our help. According to the Red Squirrel Survival Trust, they could be extinct from England within 10 years.  I’ve chosen to post this photograph to celebrate Red Squirrel Awareness Week. It was taken whilst watching a rare population in the Dales. Click here to read about this amazing experience. Few people in England have seen red squirrels and some find it hard to spot them even in nature reserves where they are known to thrive. The trick is to look up for their nests, known as dreys, high in the trees. If there are half chewed pine cones scattered on the forest floor below, chances are there are red squirrels scampering in the trees above.



September 21st 2018


Wildlife photo of the week 


wildlife photo of the week rhino


It’s World Rhino Day tomorrow and to celebrate I thought I’d share this photograph of a powerful male I watched in Namibia. These animals need to be protected before we lose them for good. This was a research photograph for a painting I exhibited to support endangered wildlife, but the story behind the photograph is interesting because this particular rhino actually charged me. It was a stark reminder of how wildlife needs to be respected.  Click here to read the full story and to see the painting this experience inspired. 

A Close Encounter with a Rhino

September 14th 2018

Industrial Peregrine Falcon

Wildlife photo of the week 


wildlife photo of the week industrial peregrine

This year I’ve been photographing a pair of peregrine falcons at a nest in an industrial chemical plant in Hull. Its been a very different experience for me. I occasionally venture in to urban spaces to watch wildlife, but I had never been into an industrial site before. It was incredible to see how these birds have adapted to life amidst the noise and smells of heavy industry. I was given unique access to film the peregrines by Vivergo Fuels, a bio-fuel plant based at the site that has taken on the role of protecting these birds. Read more about my incredible experience here and see more of the photographs I took of the chicks and the paintings they inspired by clicking here.

How filming a peregrine falcon nest in an industrial zone inspired new paintings

Peregrines are the most successful examples of urban wildlife. These formidable hunters can fly at speeds of up to 242 mph, making them the fastest animals in the world. Read more fascinating peregrine facts by clicking here. 

All you need to know about peregrine falcons: the facts



September 8th 2018

Ringed Plover

Wildlife photo of the week


ringed plover wildlife photo of the week


This week conservationists celebrated ‘World Shorebirds Day’ in an attempt to raise awareness of a decline in shoreline habitats. This ringed plover is an example of why shorebirds are worth protecting. A small, dumpy, looking bird, it is endearing to watch as it runs full pelt along a beach or muddy river bank and then stands stock still, head cocked looking for crustaceans or worms. It is believed that its fast footwork mimics the sound of raindrops and lures this prey to the surface.



I hope you have enjoyed my weekly photographs. To see more take a look at my Wildlife Photo of the Week: Spring, Wildlife Photo of the Week: Summer and  Wildlife Photo of the Week: Winter

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