I have always loved art – I went to art college and studied painting, so I’ve always been creative in one way or the other!
Yet I also love taking photographs and especially wildlife photography, nothing thrills me more then seeing something so beautiful like a butterfly, dragonfly or bird and being able to capture what I see and then to share it for others to see too!
My family left London in 2007 and moved to North Devon and for the first time, we had a biggish garden in which we made into a wildlife haven! Adding another wildlife pond, a wildflower meadow, a mini orchard and lots of bird and animal homes around the garden. The wildlife came thick and fast, from grass snakes to broad bodied chasers and hedgehogs! (all featured in my gallery)
In April 2011 I decided to feed the birds live mealworms – I had read how much they loved them and especially when it came to nesting season – easy pickings for very hungry and fast growing chicks. Of course unbeknown to me I had made a decision which would change my life and the life for another too. He first appeared to me after I had frustratingly decided to ‘drown’ the live and living mealworms because the birds were turning their beaks up at them and I was feeling I had wasted my money… He was a robin and he was angry – so angry in fact, he took a dead mealworm in his beak and slammed it down on the floor, then he picked it up again and did the same and then glared at me through my study window as if he was yelling ‘Why are they dead??? I want them alive!’ – so I shot out with a handful of ‘live’ and ‘living’ mealworms and replaced them… and the robin came back and took 3 away in his beak and then he just continued to do that for the rest of the Spring and Summer. He came very close to me, in fact, he would come when I called him – ‘Larry Legs’, or just plain ‘Larry’ but the ‘Legs’ because he had long thin legs…
In mid July that year Larry Legs introduced me to his son:
Then shortly after, he disappeared and I didn’t see him again. I’m absolutely convinced that he knew what he was doing – he knew that when he left, his fledglings and particularly this one would be safe. I hope one day to meet him again when my time has come and to thank him for giving me such a wonderful small flock of amazing best robin friends! But he certainly knew!!!
This robin I also called ‘Larry’ – but ‘Little Larry’ – as I figured he’d recognise me calling his dad’s name when he was in the nest, so I was familiar to him, the sound of my voice and my ‘shape’ too – so he was immediately a part of me – although never a ‘hand perching bird’ – he was a wild creature, not a plaything! I literally brought him up – I would call him every day – my whole life was dedicated to him – I would sit for hours with him as he sung to me, preened, perched deep in thought… And if I moved some place else, he’d follow! I couldn’t go away on holiday without asking friends to ‘robin sit’, I couldn’t go very far in the Winter months as I ‘had’ to get home before it got dark to make sure he was ok. I had him from July 2011 to June 2013 – in-between he helped me through the sad loss of my beautiful mum to cancer, she loved him too and he being by my side when her physical presence had gone, made me feel like she was still with me in him. Until he left too. I fear his nest was attacked by magpies, as he didn’t turn up for his breakfast one morning, that fateful day of 7th June 2013 – but his wife ‘Lila’ turned up that evening, with one fledgling in tow. My beloved Larry:
I mourned Larry’s loss for so long, I was totally heartbroken and the grief of losing my mum, came back tenfold and it took me a long long time to not be tearful when I thought of Larry and his demise. But you can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? As it didn’t end there, far from it – even though I convinced myself not to get involved with another robin – their lives are short and full of danger, I’d be worrying all over again and much worse, so I won’t whatsoever – no no no – fall for another robin….
I didn’t listen to myself. Although it took me a year, and the ground work was done – when this little bird was a fledgling, I called him using a particular whistle and then came up with a name a few days later ‘Louie’ – and finally after a few days of being very very scared and without his dad to show him how… Louie stepped out for a photograph or 10…
Then he disappeared as all youngsters generally do to moult and gain their beautiful adult plumage and make their way into the world. Although he didn’t go far, I would see him watching me deep in the hedge as I was out with my camera, or he would pop out occasionally to say hello! It was my Dad who kept him friendly, he would call him every morning for some food and Louie would answer and come down.
Finally I just swallowed my fear of getting too close and I began to call him too and using that whistle I taught him to recognise when he was a youngster and the rest – well – that’s another story for another day! But here is Louie from today – 18th November – I see him every single day now, at least 3 times, for chats and photographs and live mealworms… He’s coming into his 4th season and he is stronger then ever! And boy am I utterly in love with him, as in, I’ve got it so bad!!!
But how I hear you ask is this your inspiration? Well – note the name of my business up there – LARRYWARE – when Larry disappeared, I decided to make myself a little momento of him to keep forever – so I took one of his many pictures and made myself a pendant! And that gave me the idea to make jewellery out of my own images from photographs and now to paintings – and it’s all Larry’s fault! Of course Louie has been made into jewellery pieces too and he also has an official 2017 calendar:
Which you can purchase here
I am robin mad. In fact, I am so robin, perhaps I should change my name?!
I am ‘still’ writing a book about ‘My Wild Life with Robins’ – but that has been shelved for a bit (pardon the pun) until after Christmas, so in my hibernation period of early next year when the business goes quiet… I shall be writing then! So watch this space!
Thanks for reading!
Emily 🙂 (& Louie!) x
P.S. You can keep in touch with Louie here daily.