Hello and welcome to my site!

My name’s Catherine and I’m a wildlife artist with a particular passion for birds and fungi. You’re in the right place for my blog, galleries and shop where you will find originals, prints and jewellery pieces. Me in a nutshell? I love to paint with tiny brushes, my heart skips a beat when I find an earthstar and I’m rubbish at gull identification. Comments and feedback are welcomed. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook

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I’m back!

It’s been a while I know.

It’s wasn’t you – it was me.

Somewhere between having a full time job and immersing myself in my amateur naturalist pursuits, I haven’t given the website and blog the attention it (I hope) deserves. Better informed, more conservation minded and terribly inspired – It’s time to change that.

As you might know by now, I’m working at WWT London Wetland Centre (receptionist and lunchtime wanderer arounder) and it’s high time I started sharing some of the magic stuff that I spot/ other’s have pointed me in the direction of.

I’m not going to babble on about everything I’ve been up to since I last posted – I’m sure you’ve been up to plenty too. However, I’ve worked on several commissions, spent far too much time looking for/thinking about mushrooms and inverts and am birding more than ever. Really going for 200 UK birds this year – currently on 188. My year list can be found under the blog section if you fancy a ganders.

I’ll end with a handful of images from recent times and will be in touch again soon – I promise!

Turtle Dove
Turtle Dove – RSPB Otmoor. It’s been a crazy privilege to view and hear these wonderful birds on two occasions recently.

Yellow birds nest
Yellow birds nest plant – Monotropa hypopitys – well chuffed to find this recently at Wytham woods in Oxfordshire. Get a permit, get your bins, don’t wear converse after heavy rain.

Grey Wagtail
Grey Wagtail outside a pub in Oxfordshire yesterday. It’s been my ultimate ‘i can’t believe i haven’t seen one of these yet this year’ birds. This one obviously doesn’t take prisoners. Maybe they were just avoiding me.

Ruddy turnstone and harlequin duck
Ruddy Turnstone and Harlequin duck necklaces that i’m working on. More pieces to be listed soon!

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USA here we come….

Spike and i are off to the States (Boston and New York) next week! Basically a trip to see Fleetwood Mac with (hopefully) pure birding and wildlife action other then that. It’s got me all reminiscent of our East coast Canada and New England trip back in 2011 so here are some bird pics from the trip. Spike had a whole lot more but his computer died and ,unfortunately, his pictures died with it. We’ve both got some snapping catching up to do this time around me thinks. Anyway – here are some from the last adventure…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the top – American Robin, Common Grackle, Dark-eyed Junco, Greater Yellowlegs, Mockingbird, Ring-billed Gull, Semi-palmated Plover, Gray Catbird. All images courtesy of Spike. Many more to come from the next trip fingers crossed. Not literally. Pics taken with crossed fingers might not be the best idea.

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It’s Birdworld time!

Hello my lovelies,

I do hope you’re all well. Times have been busy in old Ealing town and I decided to have a birthday last week. I won’t tell you my age but if you take the number 28, half it then double it, you’ll be there. Word on the street (or rather the London bird wiki) was that around 100 Hawfinches were hanging out in Mickleham, Surrey for a few days. This was very very tempting indeed but feeling somewhat lazy, we decided to go to Birdworld in Farnham instead on Saturday.

Lots of lovely birds about (as one would expect) and I witnessed my first Budgie and Tortoise mating activities (not with each other) which was educational I suppose. One of the highlights was getting followed by a Reeve’s pheasant though it’s enclosure limited this somewhat. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking! Well worth a visit if you’re in that neck of the woods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

From the top – Burrowing Owl, Blacksmith Plover, Diamond Dove, Kookaburra, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Snowy Owl (not winking, think it had a slightly dodgy eye), White-cheeked Pintail (white morph). All images courtesy of Spike – thank you!

In other news, my wildlife nestbox webcam is now up and running and as of yesterday, computer connected. I’ve decided not to stream footage until something happens and if it doesn’t it will be feeder cam time.

Lots of birds in the garden recently and last week brought a new garden tick in the form of a female Goldcrest. I’ve named her Genevieve and happily, she’s visited to feed on fatballs every day since! Here she is…..

 

 

Art wise, I’m working on a commission for a Green Woodpecker necklace which will feature real feathers and I’ve made good progress on my new Whale Jewellery range. These pieces are made of polymer clay, acrylic paint and resin. The whale images are prints from my own illustrations and the text and other imagery are printed from a late 19th C book on Whales. The image shows some current pieces (necklaces and broaches). These will feather silver chains and some new blue chain which I’m loving! Coming to a catherinebeazley.com shop near you soon.

Here are some of the Whale illustrations for the Jewellery pieces. Toodle pip for now!

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100 birds, a nest and some ants.

Greetings good blog readers of the world. I hope you’ve had a good weekend. Here’s what I’ve been up to on mine. I had a bit of a stomach ache on Saturday so rather than venturing too far, I went for a little walk in Walpole Park. Lots of birds out and about with a Song thrush giving it some vocal welly which was nice. I sat in my favourite spot for a bit as there’s always a good chance of seeing Coal tit, Goldcrest and Greenfinch as well as Long tailed tit. I noted the latter and watched it fly into a shrub, flying out after a few moments. I went a little closer to investigate and noted a perfect little nest with my bins. Brilliant! I’m not sure of its chances being about a metre off the ground, by a main path and not particularly far in but I’ll keep my eyes peeled on developments.

  

The nest definitely had plenty of lichen going on which looked to be complimented by toilet tissue! Whatever works i guess….

       Long tailed tit – Ink and Acrylic paint illustration (prints available) clay necklace (for sale)

 

 

Long tailed tits in the garden. They come to the same spot – netting around next door’s blackberry plants. As you can see in the pic it does seem to mess with their tail feathers. Long tailed tits tend to have long tails i find.

 

 

 

Spike and I headed over to Staines reservoir on Sunday morning for what turned out to be a very satisfactory spot of birding! Meadow Pipit, Scaup, Black Necked Grebe and Great Northern Diver brought my year list up to 102. Brilliant!!! Lots of the usual winter ducks around as well as a couple of Reed Bunting, 3+ Lapwing, several Stock dove, a fox and single Redshank and Shelduck. Coltsfoot lined the South basin borders – beautiful and bright.

I also spotted a single Wigeon with a bit of a difference amongst a big group. The Wigeon in question presented with a green streak to the head and slightly darker head colouring in general. After a bit of investigation, this is likely a Eurasian Wigeon variant rather than a hybrid. I must admit my heart skipped a beat when I first scoped it, thinking it might be an American bird for a brief moment!

 

 

 

 

Coltsfoot at Staines Reservoir

 

 

 

 

After lunch, we popped over to the moor. The sound of Skylark (year tick!) overhead was magic as ever and we spotted several Linnet, a Kestrel, Green Woodpecker, Little Egret, Water Pipit, Little Grebe, Reed Bunting and a single Mute Swan youngster.

There was plenty of Green Woodpecker poo about and I couldn’t resist taking a bit home to investigate the ant remains. Lacking a box/envelope I decided to fold a Tesco club card statement and put it in that. I obviously didn’t do a good job as I returned home to find my handbag full of ant remains. Oh well, worse things happen at sea (and to ants).

Here’s one. What do you call a Walrus in Orkney?……Completely blimming amazing that’s what!!! Anyone fancy a mammal twitch?

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Double helpings of birding adventures

Every time we go to Keyhaven, we always say how nice it would be if we could go to Blashford lakes while we’re in the area. Every time we go to Blashford lakes, we always say how nice it would be if we could go to Keyhaven while we’re in the area. One Saturday night B&B booking later and we’re living the dream! I was so pleased to be back at Keyhaven, I hardly noticed the fact that I’d spilt diet coke all over the car seat and, subsequently, the only pair of jeans I had with me were soaked through.

Big numbers of Brent Geese were feeding or flying overhead. We got the first Reed Bunting of the year as well as Grey Plover, Turnstone and a very brief look at a Dartford Warbler. A group of 50+ Curlew was quite a site, accompanied by about 4 billion Dunlin. I decided that there was a good chance some Red Knot were in with them but, try as I might, I just couldn’t separate any birds. Sorting the two ID’s out with winter birds is on my to-do this for the week. Imagine if I missed a Pec Sand or something? I need to do me some learning. We must have seen at least a dozen Red Breasted Merganser including a single female in the harbour just a couple of metres away. Keyhaven is a reliable spot for them.

The day ended with the sunset over a shingle beach around the corner which we discovered by chance. A reasonably sized flock of Linnet and a handful of Muntjac deer were rather charming to spot and Spike saw a Rock Pipit. I didn’t see a Rock Pipit but I did find some seaweed which I used as a whip to deal with the fact Spike had seen a bird I missed. I must stress that I was very gentle.

On Sunday morning we headed over to Blashford. As avid readers of my blog (hi mum!) might remember, this is a great site for Scarlet Elf cup fungi and we spotted Common eyelash fungi there last time too. More of the same this time!

The magic hide with the feeders was (as expected) covered with Redpoll and Siskin and I was happy to see 3 Brambling doing their thing. I think my Brambling photography skills have improved on last time but Bittern-wise, I’m not sure there is much hope. The picture below after the Nuthatch and Brambling  is the best picture of a Bittern I’ve ever taken. I know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plenty of Snowdrops were around as well as a few Wild Daffodils and Lesser Celandine busy being yellow. A rogue Crocus was also in full bloom. It all felt very Spring-like and the evenings are getting lighter. Brilliant!!!

Thanks to Spike for some of the pics. Thanks to me for the rest.

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Bearded ladies….

Hello chaps and chapesses,

Despite a rather late night for one of the party, Spike and I made it to Hyde Park on Saturday and it was well worth the trip! He was a little bit hungover but after a full English and various varieties of fizzy pop, he was sufficiently alive to brave the central line.

We had a look for the resident Tawny owl in Kensington gardens first but after finding the preferred two trees and scanning lots of others, no joy. A single Barnacle goose was feeding with a bunch of Greylags which was a little unusual. It’s highly likely this is an escaped bird but no visible ring. I’m not ticking it at time of writing but I don’t half want to!

The main event was arguably the two lovely Bearded Tits feeding in the reed bed near the Diana memorial. They were showing phenomenally well and I was totally gobstruck. This is the first record of BT’s in central London and as I’ve certainly learnt from trips to Norfolk, they’re pretty elusive and very fast movers! Just gotta go with the lovely pinging sound they make. I feel like Saturday’s viewing was something of a once in a lifetime thing so needless to say – I was a very happy bunny!

Here’s a little video too – Bearded tits – youtube

All pics on this post courtesy of Spike except the last one and the video. Tawny owl – I’m coming back for you…..

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More Waxwings? Really?

Yes – day 38! After dreaming I was throwing the contents of a tin of tuna at a stray Gannet, having a Ferrero Roger and an after dinner mint for breakfast and realising that I hadn’t left the house for a week, I took a trip to my favourite sorbus bush.

12 Waxwings were present today, stuffing their beaks and looking stunning. Also had a pair of Canada goose, a Grey Heron and 2 Lesser Black Backed gulls over.

 

If the birdsong I heard was anything to go by, spring seems to be in the air. I saw no less the 4 Wrens when I walked back from seeing the Waxwings (or was it a single Wren stalking me?) and they were belting it out. Amazing how such a small bird can make such a loud sound though it ain’t half pretty.

I’ve been working on several more bird necklaces and small necklace and earring sets which I’ll get on the website soon – looking good!

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Waxwing update

Day 11. and there are still plenty of berries! Territorial Mistle thrush – check. Single male Blackcap – check. More pics – check! The bird that didn’t make it last Tuesday was delivered to NHM Tring at the weekend.

A Waxwing sticking it’s tongue out – charming.

 

 

 

Here’s my Waxwing -    Waximillion. He’s actually a Cedar boy though and thought the other birds accents were a bit funny.

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Bittersweet Birding

A couple of days ago I had another try at getting a good look at South Ealing’s current Waxwing guests. I was totally awestruck when I first saw the 9 strong flock feeding on a beautiful berry laden Sorbus tree. The tree is just across from the tube station, right next to a busy road and the Waxwings were showing from about 2 metres! How good is that! But then…..

The Waxwings were spooked and flew swiftly over to a large tree on the other side of the tube tracks but unfortunately two of the birds flew into a very close by bus shelter. Both birds were knocked to the ground and the two other birders present placed them in the tree’s garden for protection. After about 5 minutes, it seemed that one bird hadn’t made it. Thankfully though, we watched as the other bird gradually came round – a blink here, a turn of the head, the coughing up of an intact berry and things were looking positive. After about an hour we were delighted to see the bird fly strongly away to a tree up the road. A birder placed some paper over the bus shelter glass to help prevent this happening again that evening – thank you to him!

It was magical watching the flock. They would come over, feed for a bit and then get told where to go by an extremely territorial Mistle thrush (year tick!) before plucking up the courage to return. It was also delightful to see a single male Blackcap joining the flock each time they returned to feed. Theres a lot to be said for safety in numbers it seems! It really felt very special to observe this behaviour.

 

What became of the Waxwing that didn’t make it? I took it home and its currently in my freezer. I’m waiting to hear back from NHM Tring with the hope of delivering it to them soon. I do hope It will be of use to them.

 

 

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Happy new year!

Something a bit like a twitch. Like everyone else and his grandmother, Spike and I headed over to Queen Mother Reservoir in Berkshire to look for the Buff-bellied pipit in late December. Unfortunately, we were not hardcore enough to withstand longer than two hours in the rain since it was nearly Christmas and there’s a very good pub not far from the site. We did manage to see a rather handsome drake Long Tailed Duck which was a UK lifer for me so I was quite content with that. The arrival of a second Pipit was quite something but as permits were not available over the Christmas to New Year period (most understandable!) and we were in Cornwall (most understandable!) we never did meet our American feathered friends.

 

 

Famous twitchers – the Craig family

 

 

 

I can’t say I’ve ever seen much in the way of leucistic birds. The large amount of Carrion Crow in Walpole park feature individuals with definite white/gray to their feathers but this is pretty minimal. However, a festive concert at London’s Barbican centre brought a charming Coot which looked as if it had been snowed on to make us feel extra Christmassy. Then an enormous Dipper turned out to be a Leucistic female Blackbird near Par, Cornwall. Please note – at no point did I actually think this was a Dipper. I can’t believe you even entertained the idea.

176 – Hurrah! Ok, so it’s not 200 and I knew a little while ago that it wasn’t going to be (see example of stamina re Pipit above). The last new birds of the year came with a trip to Porthpean beach near my native St.Austell, Cornwall. As soon as the scope was up, we had several Common Scoter, a single Velvet Scoter (thanks to the chap who helped us find it!) and Great Northern Diver. Fine birds to end the year on!

Fulmar at Tintagel, Cornwall

Birding wise, the New Year got off to a good start with the usual local species. Exeter service station brought my first ever Waxwing (not counting the Helsinki zoo bird) which I was mightily pleased about! 10 or so birds have been hanging out by South Ealing station for some days now too. Definitely time for a Waxwing necklace or illustration or both. Definitely time to improve my Waxwing/leucistic bird photography skills.

Bewick Swan and Lapwing with Dunlin at WWT Slimbridge

We paid a visit to WWT Slimbridge on the way back to London town – what a magic place! I’ve never seen waders and wildfowl in the numbers that hang out there and it was a treat to see wild Bewicks and White fronted Geese for the first time. That plus a little girl was convinced that a Goldeneye duck she saw was a Beaver. The mind boggles.

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