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Wildlife Photo of the Week: Winter 2018

Welcome to my Winter ‘Photo of the Week’ where I share the best of my photographic research this season. These are the studies that inspire my paintings. If you too 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.

To see more of my wildlife photographs click the link to head over to my Spring 2018 Photo of the Week.


February 23rd 2018

Fox Vixen 

Wildlife photo of the week

 

Fox vixens become increasingly secretive at this time of year as they prepare for the birth of their cubs in mid-March. They start clearing out potential den sites under sheds, and re-opening old holes in banks and on areas of waste ground to select a safe space in which to give birth. They are harder to spot at this time. I photograped this one in Dalby Forest. She was already feeding cubs and had been scavanging amongst the picnic bins all day. She was soaking wet after being caught in a heavy downpour. Read my blog post of the experience here:

A weekend with a very bold, very wet fox


February 16th

Robin Nests

Wildlife photo of the week

 

This week is National Nest Box Week, a British Trust for Ornithology initiative to increase available nesting sites for birds by encouraging people to put up bird boxes in their gardens. Many bird species choose to bring up their broods in gardens where food supplies are consistent and where the proximity to humans makes them feel safe from predators. Robins are notorious for choosing unusual spots to bring up their chicks. Gardeners around the country have found robin nests in their spare tyres, garden sheds or even walking boots. I once had them nesting in my car grill and had to ground my car until the chicks fledged. Read the full story and see the paintings it inspired here: 

https://www.robertefuller.com/diary/how-the-robins-in-my-garden-choose-to-nest-in-odd-places-from-my-car-grill-to-a-storm-lantern/


February 9th 2018

Long-tailed tit

Wildlife photo of the week

 

With pink-tinged plumage and tiny, fluffy bodies, long-tailed tits are one of the UK’s prettiest, and cutest, garden birds. They tend to flock together in excitable, chattering groups of about 20 birds and are easy to spot because of the way they rock back and forth using their oversized tails to balance. Look out for them this month as they scour hedgerows and garden sheds for nesting materials. They are one of the UK’s earliest birds to breed and can be seen now preparing to weave their intricate nests. These remarkable structures are made with spiders web which expands to accommodate their broods as they grow. Read more about how they do this on my blog post here.

Why I taught my daughter not to spring clean and to leave cobwebs for long-tailed tits


February 3rd 2018

Great Crested Grebe

Wildlife photo of the week

 

Look out for great crested grebe performing their unusual courtship dance now. Pairs rise out of the water, and almost run along its surface towards one another. They pause inches away from each other and shake their heads from side to side mirroring each other’s actions perfectly before dropping down. This elaborate dance is quite spectacular, especially since grebes are such elegant water birds. Read my blog post on this elaborate courtship dance here.  They have ornate head plumes which in the past were a mixed blessing since they were hunted almost to extinction in the 1800s for these feathers. Now populations are healthy and you find them on most large lakes and even on ornamental ponds.

 


January 26th 2018

Robin Reflection

Wildlife photo of the week

 

Tomorrow is the start of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, the world’s largest garden wildlife survey. Now in its 39th year, the event involves UK residents devoting one hour this weekend  (27th, 28th and 29th January) counting the number of birds in their garden.  Last year more than half a million people took part in this national census and the results were used to give the RSPB a picture of the geographical distribution of different garden bird species and how they are coping . This year the RSPB are also asking people to record any other wildlife they spot during the hour, including badger, fox, grey squirrel, red squirrel, muntjac deer, roe deer, frog and toad. I like to take part each year with my two young daughters. I’ve been teaching them how to identify different species by their song. Read about the time I spent teaching them the basics here. Or follow this link to learn my top tips on how to identify birds by their song.


January 19th 2018

Tawny Owl in Snow

Wildlife photo of the week

 

Tawny owls sleep during the day in the shelter of natural hollows inside tree trunks. Occasionally you can spot them dozing at the entrances high in the tree canopy, but they are hard to spot since they sit so still. Choosing a suitable tree hollow to rest in is important at this time of year, since these birds of prey are already preparing for the breeding season and a sheltered hollow usually also makes a good nesting site. But competition is rife and at this time of year you often get tawnys fighting jackdaws, barn owls and even kestrels for the best sites. I’ve discovered that battles over nest boxes begin as early as October, click here to read my blog post on this and see my video footage of some alarming battles between birds of prey. 

 


January 12th 2018

Dipper

Wildlife photo of the week

 

Dipper

This week I’ve been thinking about dippers and how amazing they are. Dippers are named for the way that they constantly bob, up and down, whilst perched. They can make around 60 of these ‘dips’ a minute. But what makes them really exceptional is that they walk underwater. Using their feet to hold onto stones at the bottom of streams, they push their wings out to hold them steady against the current as they hunt for small fish and invertebrates. Their bodies are specially adapted for this purpose and although they don’t have webbed- feet and rarely dive, they use well-developed wing muscles, eyes that function under water, and flaps over their nostrils to prevent water rushing in, to just walk into water to feed. Look out for them alongside rivers and streams even in towns and cities. I photographed this one by a river in Wales.


January 6th 2018

Blackbird in Snow

Wildlife photo of the week

 

Blackbird

Happy New Year! I feel that this shot of a black bird foraging in a flurry of snow expressed the mood this week. After a fresh fall of snow here in Thixendale I watched the birds in the garden feeding in a frenzy. Garden birds need to eat nearly a third of their body weight every day just to keep alive in the winter. On cold days they tend to be very active as they search for food. Gardeners help to sustain Britain’s garden bird populations through the winter by putting out food for them. Read my post on how different bird species battle the cold by clicking here. And read a second post on how they cope with the night cold here. 

 


 

I hope you have enjoyed my weekly updates. To see more photo studies follow this link to 2017’s Wildlife Photo of the Week. 

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