Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Lots of Owls

Been a good week for seeing owls. On Saturday as we drove through Holden Clough we saw a Little Owl sat on the wall by the road. Damp, mizzly weather so perfect for it to catch earthworms. On Monday as we arrived at Bank House Fly Fishery we were greeted by a cacophony of Blackbird alarm calls and suddenly a Tawny Owl broke out of the trees in front of us, persued by at least half a dozen blackbirds. They followed it into the copse opposite the house where they were joined by more blackbirds, blue tits and great tits, the noise was amazing. Eventually the tawny had enough and took off over the fields. On Saturday we also watched a hare in Anne Gardners garden up at Bleasdale cottages. It sat there for a while at the base of her hedge before ambling into the field, where I photographed it hiding. We also surprised a Buzzard which had just made a kill in the field near the hide as we drove up, took off carrying something dark with a tail! Looked huge so close, beautiful in the sunshine.

Little Owl near Holden Clough Nursery

Tawny Owl at Bank House Fly Fishery

Hare hiding in grass at Bleasdale

Thursday, 8 October 2009


This is the first year I've tried to grow Pumpkins, lots of fruits but only one got big and matured. Very proud but Bramble unimpressed.


Had a walk around Gisburn Park. Sweet Chestnuts covered with spiky husked fruits. Hornbeams look very elegant and attractive with their bright yellow foliage and long drooping clusters of nuts in their leafy bracts. Have yet to find any acorns on any oak trees though I've found plenty of marble galls and artichoke galls. Horse Chestnuts seem to have less conkers too. Seems a good year for berries though, the Hollies and Rowans are covered with them. Hawthorn has done well too though not as well as last year when they were spectacular. Jays and Grey Squirrels are easier to spot now as they are so busy making their winter stockpiles. Still got wasps flying around and plenty of spiders are getting into the house. Bramble my pet ferret has developed an unfortunate partiality to House Spiders. There was a full moon on Sunday, so bright it was hard to sleep, lovely to go out walking in. The birds are starting to come back into the garden to feed, really pleased to see a little Wren bobbing around. Found a Woodlouse in my compost bin moulting its old skin, really surprised as didn't think they lived long enough to need to do that.

Mature Marble Galls

Young Marble Galls

Mature Artichoke Galls

Young Artichoke Gall

Hornbeam Nuts

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Saturday 13/06/09

Fantastic sunny day with a lovely light breeze, perfect for insect hunting (photos only) up at beautiful Stocks Reservoir. Lots of patches of nettles, wildflowers and thistles and marshy areas. Settled on nettle leaves or flying weakly about there were several damselflies, these looked stunning when took off as their wings glittered in the sunlight like they'd been spun out of delicate silver thread. I think one was definitely the Large Red Damselfly and the other I photo'd was possibly the Blue Tailed Damselfly.

Quite excited as there seemed to be quite a few Grasshoppers around, not confident as to their identity though. Also found a lovely little spider in a curled over nettle leaf, probablyAraniella cucurbitina, gorgeous colours.

In nettles next to the cafe found the Sawfly Rhogogaster viridis, highly decorative colours, blown over the water I can't imagine any Trout would miss that, I always thought Fishing Flies looked really garish now I know why. Down by the water amongst the wildflowers found an incredibly delicate looking Lacewing, probably Chrysopa perla bluey-green with black markings down the centre of its body. Also looked slightly sinister I have to say and after reading how their larva suck all the juices out of aphids and then sometimes decorate themselves with the shrivelled corpses I think I was probably right, still stunning though.

My Wildlife Art website www.elizabeth-mills.co.uk

Friday, 15 May 2009


Lovely sunny day, though very breezy, went to Samlesbury Hall for a Green Tourism meeting. At lunchtime wandered in the grounds and looked at their new maze which is planted with both native and garden flowers. Several Speckled Wood Butterflies were sunning themselves on the woodchip paths in the maze. Horse Chestnuts were also in full bloom filling the air with a lovely fragrance, Ramsons all blooming in the shade beneath the trees.

My Wildlife Art website www.elizabeth-mills.co.uk

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Here are some wildlife sightings from Paul Booth, the manager of Rimington Caravan Park:
(Toad photo) I came across this little fellow whilst out in the fields opposite the caravan park...the dogs were most impressed!!!
20/3/09 My two boys were very excited to see frog spawn in our garden pond (we "rescued" the pond and all its occupants from one of the Park Homes on site last summer)
22/3/09 Came across a fine example of a Hedgehog on the site (approx 40cm long) obviously had come out of hibernation after the recent spell of warm weather.
25/3/09 Sadly and rather tragically a dead Badger on the A682 near Gisburn, the first I have seen in this area either dead or alive.
27/3/09 Plenty of Lapwing and Curlew activity in the fields behind the house together with a large mixed flock of Fieldfare and Redwing.

My Wildlife Art website www.elizabeth-mills.co.uk

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Lower Fairsnape Farm 18/03/09 saw my first bat of the year at dusk flying over Bleasdale cottages. 20/03/09 up at Stocks Reservoir saw my first two bumble bees of the year zipping around the car park and my first toad of the year sunning itself by the picnic tables. Sunny, mild weather all week. Wood anemones coming out in old hedge bottoms and woods and rich yellow celandine flowers appearing. Wild garlic leaves greening up the woodland floors.

My Wildlife Art website www.elizabeth-mills.co.uk

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Lower Fairsnape Farm, Bleasdale

15th March

Up at Lower Fairsnape again. Lots of sunshine but very cold and quite windy. Sat in the birdhide to look for hares. Eventually found four spread out across the field making a superb job of looking like mole hills or grassy tussocks. All either feeding or stretching out in the sun and not taking much interest in each other, though one got chased off by two rabbits. Looked beautiful whenever the sun came out and made their fur a rich red that then stood out against the dead grasses. Saw my first ever close up view of a Redshank and realised I have been hearing their calls for ages but not known it. The redshank came and sat on a fence post right by the hide, it's plumage looked so soft and insulating though I thought it's legs looked more orange than red. All around there were lots of pairs of lapwings and Curlews. The lapwings kept making dizzying display flights and mobbed any crows that flew over and mobbed an unfortunate hare that got too close. Saw several Redshank flying down to the scrapes and a flock of what looked like thrushes in the far distance, probably Fieldfares(?) A large flock of starlings took off and whirled overhead. As we drove off a large hare strolled into the road ahead of us and ambled off, a lovely end to the day.

My Wildlife Art website www.elizabeth-mills.co.uk

Trough of Bowland

Saturday 14th March

Daffodils coming out in Chatburn and Hawthorn leaves starting to unfurl, lovely refreshing bright green after the dull damp browns of winter. Wild garlic leaves are starting to cover woodland floors.

Saw a large flock of lapwings in field bottom near river at Whitewell.

Drove through Trough of Bowland on way to Forrest Hills Outdoor Centre. Saw a huge woodmouse bounding through beech leaves at edge of wood. Reversed for a second look as so big initially thought it was someones escaped gerbil. Living next to picnic area so probably rich pickings even over winter, looked very healthy.

Lots of lapwing and curlew pairs around now.

Saw first hedgehog of the year as dusk fell at Forrest Hills.

Lovely drive back through the Trough of Bowland, the low sun catching the dead bracken and grass and turning drab browns into rich chestnut reds and straw golds. Saw a Black Grouse by side of road, camera in the boot! Typical.

My Wildlife Art website www.elizabeth-mills.co.uk

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


Fantastic day out in beautiful Bleasedale and visited Beacon Fell Country Park, which I'd never been to before. Visited Lower Fairsnape Farm, run by Robert and Anne Gardner, Several pairs of curlews displaying and calling, one even dive bombed another. Plenty of Lapwings with their strange bazooka-like calls, displaying and feeding . Also saw several Red-legged partridge oystercatchers and a huge buzzard being mobbed over woods near village hall. Got lovely photographs of hare sat in gateway opposite the Gardners house. Barrie crept up on it to get photos, but obvious it had seen him, when he stood up it looked vaguely interested but didn't run off, too busy enjoying the spring sunshine. Anne showed me gaps in walls of barn and cottages that Grey Wagtails nested in last year and were checking out this year. Above doorway of one of the cottages there is a slight niche that a kestrel roosts in, if the wind direction changes, Anne told me it goes round to another niche instead. Found several pellets below both roosts, hadn't realised Kestrels produced them. While we were talking a pair of Kestrels wheeled above us, calling to each other, looking stunning in the sunlight.

Had a tasty toasted cheese sandwich and coffee at Beacon Fell Country Park, so warm and sunny we could sit outside. Meal was accompanied by the amorous croakings of hundreds of frogs in their pond that were frantically spawning. Rangers said frogs literally arrived overnight.

My Wildlife Art website www.elizabeth-mills.co.uk

Thursday, 15 January 2009

This is an acrylic painting on artboard I did a couple of years ago. It was done from several photographs. The painting is done in many layers and glazes.
For more information about my paintings go to my website:

27th December. Beautiful sunny day, clear blue skies. Went for a walk through the grounds of Gisburn Park Hospital, down to the river , then up path to the left of Gamekeepers and Fishermans cottages, then on to remains of Motte and Bailey. Very mild but a cold wind. Snowdrop flower buds forming in sheltered lane leading to the bridge and saxifrage leaves out. Watched a tiny Goldcrest bobbing in and out of undergrowth by stream, did'nt realise they went so close to water. All that's left of the Motte and Bailey now is a mound and ditch. Mound has a deep depression in the centre and a steep bank on side facing river. Very quiet, lovely views towards Paythorne

I have two pet ferrets. Eric is 7 years old and has neurological problems that cause him to be a little unsteady on his feet when he is tired or being lazy in the house. If he is outside and interested in something he's okay. He had some unidentified infection last April that led to hind leg paralysis and was not expected to recover. I lost a Jill ferret Poley to the same disease.

I also have a nine month old Jill called Bramble who loves going for walks and swimming. Both live in the house, are litter trained and are very affectionate especially when you have food.