Swifts distracting me as prepare for North Yorkshire Open Studios 4/5 and 11/12 June!

I am currently preparing for North Yorkshire Open Studios which starts a week tomorrow. The swifts are a constant distraction with their frequent noisy fly-pasts so it’s a good job painting them is one way I earn my living! Visitors to my studio can expect to see piles of watercolour swift sketches, but I paint much else besides! Approximately fifty percent of my output is landscape painting as well as many other species of bird. My lockdown sketchbook work will be on display too.

Here is a link to my page on NYOS 2022 – 4/5 and 11/12 June


I have always felt very fortunate that my art can be used in raising awareness for conservation. So a big part of the visitor experience for open studios here is showing people swifts, house martins and other wildlife in our garden. Hopefully they can take away ideas for their own gardens. I will be sketching from life in the garden throughout the weekend to enable people to see how I work and the materials I use.

So do come along and see what you can do for these birds and other wildlife. There will be cameras on three swift nests. The current flying displays by swifts easily rival that promised over London on Jubilee weekend and hopefully by NYOS even more birds will have arrived.

Swift diary

Each of our three pairs of swifts has two eggs and the they are making the switch to incubation. Having spent a week or so constantly in each other’s company the swifts must now separate for much of the day as they take turns to incubate the eggs. The pair bonding leading up to this point is essential for this stage when the birds spend so much time apart.

It has been a very windy week, not particularly cold but taxing for aerial insect feeders, hence records of big numbers of swifts and hirundines over wetlands across the country. However our swifts have generally hung around feeding here. They often feed on the sheltered side of Gilling Woods where they fly close to the canopy to glean insects. The last three days have seen very frequent low level flypasts, spectacular to watch on some down wind approaches, their speed and tight turns around the garden breath taking.

Yesterday evening saw a spectacular sunset; clouds quickly began to evaporate as they were blown west to east on a strong cool breeze. I watched the swifts come in to roost against this beautiful backdrop. A cold night followed with a ground frost in the early hours of the morning.

Below is a small selection of work on view at NYOS 22, much of it available to purchase.


Final low flypast before roost- 26th May.
Swift pair before roosting- 26th May 9.18pm.
Flushed red grouse- North York Moors.
Stormy sea at Sandsend.
Lapwing in winter- watercolour.

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