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We spent a delightful afternoon his week with friends in their garden which is blessed with prolific fig and walnut trees.  We had a lot of fun picking and eating the warm sweet fruit, hoping to save some from the birds who'll scoff the lot!

What big teeth you have! - Maree

Derwent graphite pencil sketch in my Moleskine 200gsm Nature Journal
Croc Valley in Ballito (on the North Coast of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa), offers crocodile and snake feedings, bird watching and a swamp forest incorporating a nature walk across the swamp on a wooden board walk. The area is now a nature reserve where crocodiles and other reptiles used to roam freely in this area. Every time I go to the Ballito, I take a drive out to Croc Valley for a cup of tea and a hike through the swamp forest, which takes approximately three-quarters of an hour to complete.

It’s only when you’re up close and personal to these magnificent animals, that their power, strength and size is VERY apparent! Although this chap looks half asleep, the guide assured me that he was fully alert and aware of his surroundings!

This is a Nile Crocodile and they feed mostly on vertebrates like fish, reptiles, and mammals, sometimes on invertebrates like molluscs and crustaceans, depending on species. They are an a…

Milkweed Plant

Milkweed Plant, a photo by Teri DC on Flickr. I love sketching Milkweed plants. Every season offers a new view. Right now they are forming their pod.
They mean life for the Monarch butterfly.

On Guard: Kingfisher

Dale and I stopped to watch, photograph and sketch a kingfisher.

.... and then something caught the kingfisher's attention.

Up there, way high in the sky, soared a falcon.  It was so high I never would have noticed it if I hadn't looked to see what the kingfisher was looking at .

Fun with Hummingbirds!

My favorite morning activity this time of year is to take my cup of coffee out on the patio and watch the hummingbird activity.  I added new flowers to my hummingbird garden in the spring and the rewards are plentiful!  More hummingbirds nectaring flowers to photograph and paint!
Above you see one of my most recent hummingbird sketches--a hummer nectaring monarda.  In Knoxville, TN, USA, my bird club hosted its hummingbird festival last Saturday  For the event, I combined this image with "hummer with black and blue salvia", and my "male hummingbird study" into a boxed set of note cards. It is a treat to see my images displayed on art items and talk about art with people who walk up to admire them! At the same time, I get to promote a bird I love--hummingbirds! Above, a juvenile ruby-throated hummingbird visits black and blue salvia.

For more hummingbird images, visit:  Vickie's Sketchbook.  And for a glimpse of the fun we had at the festival visit:  The Wonder of …

From my home

The summer is going and me and my sons stay at home these days. We love to play in the wood like squirrels, to do marmellade and sometimes I can also draw! 

Barn Owl hunting 2 - Maree

Black Pilot FineLiner pen sketch on a coffee-painted back-ground – Nescaf√© instant, strong! – Bockingford 300gsm Location : Our smallholding in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa 
The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is the most widely distributed species of owl, and one of the most widespread of all birds. It is also referred to as Common Barn Owl, to distinguish it from other species in the barn owl family Tytonidae. The Barn Owl is a frequent visitor to my property and is not shy to hunt in broad daylight. I often see one pouncing on something in the long grass during the day, flying off with its prize, probably to feed some babies.

These pale, nearly worldwide, birds are closely associated with man through their traditional use of barn lofts and church steeples as nesting sites.

Barn Owls are short-lived birds. Most die in their first year of life, with the average life expectancy being 1 to 2 years in the wild.

Although they are easy to identify in the day as they often hunt in daylight, by night yo…