Yorkshire wildlife artist Robert E Fuller is to feature on TV’s most popular nature series, Springwatch, next week.
The artist, who uses video to research the behaviour of wildlife for his paintings, has been selected to appear on the primetime TV series after capturing rare footage of the secret lives of weasels.
Springwatch, which charts the fortunes of British wildlife through the changing seasons, will focus on how Robert researches his animal subjects and relays his findings on to live screens in his gallery so that visitors can also experience the stories behind the animals in the paintings.
Next week the programme, which boasts viewing figures of four million, will focus on the artist’s ground-breaking insights into the courtship of weasels – as well other interesting animal observations such as how birds of prey vie for nesting sites.
The Springwatch camera crew spent two days at the artist’s home and gallery in Thixendale this April; filming him as he patrolled different wildlife areas in his garden that host wild stoats, weasels, barn owls, kestrels and tawny owls.
But it is his rare footage of weasels mating that will headline the episode.
Robert’s recordings are believed to be the only video of their kind.
“Weasels are small enough to slip through a wedding ring and so fast and secretive that it is impossible to watch them for long in the wild, which is why there has been very little research into their behaviour until now,” he said.
“I spotted two wild weasels in my flower borders last year so I left food out to encourage them to stay where I could watch them.
“I built underground feeding boxes and a nesting chamber and hid cameras inside them.
“The female went on to bring up a litter of kits here and I got to watch the tiny creatures as she took them out on their first hunting lesson.
“It was incredible to see. This year I followed two of last year’s kits and captured fascinating moments including their courtship behaviour.”
The TV screening comes just as the artist stages an exhibition of paintings of British song birds. The event, which takes place at his gallery in Thixendale until July 3, will feature a new collection of paintings of UK songsters.
Visitors will be able to see the stars of the show playing live on screens in the gallery alongside kestrels, barn owls, and blue tits in their nests.
Springwatch screens every day until June 16 - the date of Robert Fuller’s feature is yet to be confirmed.
Songbirds: Sounds of the Wolds runs from June 11 to July 3 at The Robert Fuller Gallery, Fotherdale Farm, Thixendale. See www.robertefuller.com for details and times of accompanying events.