WHEN the Yorkshire Wolds were swept by snowstorms in the bitter winter of 2010, the owl population plummeted – to the dismay of local wildlife artist Robert E Fuller.

“Barn owls are my favourite birds and I know all of the birds that I have painted personally,” he said. “When so many died, it felt like I had lost good friends. Some of the casualties were birds I had painted again and again.”

Now he is celebrating a comeback by the beautiful birds of prey with a special exhibition of paintings at his gallery in Thixendale.

“It has taken three years but at last this year the population is bouncing back,” he said.

“It is a relief to see the survivors and their offspring out hunting as night falls.”

Keeping barn owls alive on the Wolds has required commitment by the artist, who has personally put up more than 150 nest boxes across the region and is a co-founder of the Wolds Barn Owl Group, which advises landowners on how to look after their own barn owl populations.

His exhibition, which will also showcase paintings and limited edition prints of wildlife from around the world, will include a talk on Saturday, June 8, at 7.30pm by Mr Fuller about the owls he preserves – both in paint and literally.

There will also be a safari on June 15 at 10am to spot roosting owls in Thixendale, as well as the chance to handle barn owls at falconry events in the gallery courtyard.

The exhibition runs from June 1 to 16 at his gallery in Thixendale.