Thursday, 26 February 2015

First Frogspawn 2015

Thursday 26th February 2015 - After 2 weeks of amphibian shenanigans and late night croaking, there is finally frogspawn in the pond this morning. By torchlight last night I counted 13 frogs and they all dived for cover when I went out at sunrise to check on progress.

The latest in 5 years, what have they been doing for two weeks ? (We probably know the answer to that) - (* See previous first spawning dates in the same pond)

23rd February 2014
21st January 2013
19th February 2012
11th February 2011

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Polecat Paws

Collected a dead polecat (Mustela putorius) from the A39 tonight, the wild form of the domesticated ferret and the third that I have seen dead on this road in the last year but the first that I have managed to pick up. A handsome animal with it's bandit mask of black fur and its distinctive colouration. It was near a farm and a long hedgerow with evidence of rabbit warrens so perhaps the proximity of rats and rabbits, favoured food, led it onto the road.

Spent a tricky hour under the security light at the back of the house trying to take paw-prints with an ink pad with limited success and wishing I'd finished my shed and had better lighting. It feels rather appropriate to be finger printing a mammal with a bandit face-mask. I had better results with clay and managed to get some terrific impressions on rolled out slabs that I will now use to cast positive plaster tiles from and will also fire this full set of 4 paw impressions (beneath) in the kiln. I have decided that from now on I will try to collect paw impressions from all of my finds to build up a library of native animal tracks.

Tying to capture animal tracks.

Working on ideas for my summer art projects. Trying to encourage rats to run on my clay slab but after 2 nights of scattering seeds and movings the clay pieces around the garden I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps rats smell me on the board or are just wary of an unfamiliar object. The seeds seem to be being eaten and moved about but nothing is leaving a visible track on the clay for me to study to identify the culprit. Perhaps insects or maybe small mice are too light for this type of clay?

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Starling brought down to earth.

Found a dead starling in the road this afternoon. Beautiful green iridescent feathers, so perfect and precise with it's sharp beak and speckled colouration. The last one I found, 2 years ago, got stolen from the back wall by a cat when I wasn't paying attention, this wont happen again as this new find is now secured in my freezer. This specimen is going to be mounted, using my developing taxidermy skills, and will go into a Somerset cabinet artwork.

Sunday, 1 February 2015


At the garden centre this afternoon and looking at the pets. Piles of tragic plastic boxes with live food for snakes and lizards, discounted as beyond their sell-by-date. It appeared that one box of 'live' food contained only dead food and for £1.15 I purchased seven dead locusts to the bemusement of the person at the till, 'I'm an artist' I offered as after that people just nod. When I got home I found one locust was still alive and after some water and new bramble leaves he perked up and has joined the other rescue locusts in my locust house. I then spent a productive hour pinning the others out to dry,  as the children ate tea, these are destined for a piece of artwork but the details aren't yet fully formed, watch this space.