Sunday, 16 December 2012

Top Ten Wildlife Experiances of 2012

2012 has been a fantastic year for wildlife for me, seeing my first great-crested newt, waxwings and otter and travelling from the Channel Islands to Scotland and everywhere in between!

There's no particular order as I enjoyed all the experiences equally!

1. Jersey, Channel Islands - Lizards and Red Squirrels

Another first: the squirrels proved a challenge but luckily came to a feeder. The Jersey red squirrels are darker than their Scottish cousins.

Jersey has two lizards not native to England but a few colonies in Dorset and scattered groups exist from releases. The aptly named green lizard is a large reptile reaching 40cm!

again the imaginativly named wall lizard is present around rocks and walls and with caution can be approached slowly.

Jersey was also the location for my last nature trail although never say never!

2. Isles of Scilly - Grey Seals

I won this trip in a competition and have always wanted to go to the Scillies. The climate means it never has frost and plays host to lots of species that are uncommon on the mainland.
The grey seals are quite common and this one had netting around it.

 Seabirds were common with a colony of puffins in the summer though I'd missed that. The shags were present in good numbers instead.

3. Cornwall - Sand Lizards

This vibrant sand lizard is something of a secret in Cornwall. The population was reintroduced about 20 years ago and has become very healthy with a good number of them present in this location. I'd spent a week in Dorset and didn't find any - I went to a location only 40 minutes from where I live and found over 20 of the lizards!

4. Dumfires & Galloway - Starling Murmuration

It's a phenomenon I'd seen on TV but never in person and it was breathtaking to see thousands of birds working as one. The local buzzards and sparrowhawks also seemed to like it!

Murmaration video on vimeo

5. Nottinghamshire - Waxwings

These are some of the most colourful birds you're likely to see in the UK. Having a massive influx of them into Nottinghamshire I knew I wanted to try and find one so went off with local birder Rob Hoare who found a flock of around 100! It's worthwhile finding local experts as they are going to know where your intended target is!

6. Peak District, Derbyshire - Grayling

Grayling have always been one of my goals for underwater photography and I finally got the chance to photograph and film them in the Peak District. With the water being so clear it made ideal conditions.
Thanks to Rob cuss for helping me out.

7. Norfolk - Dipper

While staying with fellow wildlife photographer Josh Jaggard we heard reports of a black-bellied dipper, a rare subspecies of the white-throated dipper.

It showed very well and was not bothered by all the birders who came to see it!

8. Dungeness, Kent - Marsh Frogs

I've heard of marsh frogs but never had a confirmed sighting until I went to Kent which is crawling with them! Every lake, ditch, canal and marsh has them and they have become a important food source for a lot of local birds.

9. Bristol - Insects

While having an exhibition in Bristol I took the time to get some shots in its local parks and found more wildlife than I'd expected! Newts, tadpoles, beetles, jackdaws are all living quite happily in the middle of Bristol.

10. Mini Fish

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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Attenborough Nature Reserve In Winter

 Went to visit one of my favourite local nature reserves today, Attenborough Nature Reserve

The light was brilliant for a change and started off near the visitor's centre, where the birds are more tame, and getting low for a better perspective.

With the ice being all over the ground and water, lots of birds have been pushed closer to the edge of the lakes so by waiting at the side patiently I got shots of the tufted ducks.

It's a shame I don't shoot more environment shots but the frost on the vegatation was standing out to me.

Though quite far, this Goosander was on the top of my hitlist to photograph. I think a hide would be better for these as it proved very skittish.

Hint -

- Visiting a reserve in a differnet season will reveal differnet highlights with winter comes frost, snow and colder weather which makes nice images and brings migrating birds.

- i got down low which is a standard practice now getting more on there level and a more engaging image.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

UK Mini Fish Project

So i haven'nt really done a blog on my project yet but i though i'd put in detail what i'm planning to do and how people can get involved and help.

This project aims to look at Britains smaller freshwater fish and look into the the decline of them and to find out why this is happening. Rasing awareness for the species is key using a mixture of science and underwater photography to create a unique and special project. This project is funded by National Geographic and realies heavily from the public filling in surveys, voulnteering and general support which is needed.

Species like 10 spined stickleback are increasingly rare (or miss identified as 3 spined stickleback) and Spined loach are only found in five British rivers, becasue of there tiny size they often get over looked but without these smaller fish starting the food chain off the kingfishers and otters everyone likes to see simply would'nt be present!

The main way people can help is to fill in my survey or pass it on to other people weither there a angler or have some kind of background that would put them into contact with smaller fish.

Mini Fish Survey

Heres a interview i had with BBC Radio Nottingham about the project

The project runs from April - September 2013 and with the scientific help from Dr. Nicholas Ray of Nottingham Trent University the project aims to be a mix of science and media.

Part 2 of my interview with BBC Radio Nottingham

Rough timeline of project (subject to change)

April - VOULNTEERS NEEDED! - Surveys around a number of rivers in the East Midlands including the Trent, Leen, Derwent, Erewash, Soar and Witham if you think you can help get in contact via the Facebook Page - Facebook Page or email

20th April - Species Fishing Match - a charity event to raise money and awareness for the project on Nottingham/Beeston canal aiming to catch as many species as possible. cash prizes to be won!

Species Match Group

May - Electro Fishing with the EA - I'll be going on a number of electro fishing surveys with the Environment agency to see what species turn up.

- Night Fish Survey - Bullheads and Stone loach are mostly active at night so i'll be conducting a survey at night to see how many we can come across

June - Trent Underwater - Doing some underwater photography in the River Trent the 3rd largest river in the country.

August - Collect data and send of to National Geographic

October - release findings and images in London at the National Geographic Store (possibely a smaller event in East Midlands also)


My Personal Photography Website

Twitter - RiverFishUk

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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Birding week

I've had a week of birds going for a range of species.

i started in Carlise for the Starling murmuration a truly breath taking experience with thousands flying above my head and sparrowhawks and buzzards darting in picking of the weaker ones.

Starling Video

Later in the week i herd of reports of Waxwings in Nottingham a species i have never seen. going along with fellow Nottingham bird photographer Rob Hoare we came across a flock of over 100!

filming and seeing these birds was a great experience especially so close to my home.

Robs blog is worth a look - Rob's Blog

My Website - My Website

Facebook Page - Facebook Page Page

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Diary for the next few months

So thought I'd do a little time line of talks, trips and publications for the next few months

November - Licolnshire Wildlife Trust - Spined Loach Image
- University of Cumbria Talk - Rockpools & Rivers

December - Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Kids Magazine - Stickleback image
- Derby Telegraph - Interview about my work
- BBC Winterwatch - will be filming and appearing on the show

January - Cairngorms, Scotland - Photography trip
- Countryman Magazine - River article
- University College Falmouth Talk - Whats next?
- University of Nottingham Talk - Coastal Wildlife

February - Guided Photo walk in Nottinghamshire

March - Brook Lamprey shoots

April - National Geographic Project Starts Homepage

September - Beeston Wildlife Group - Talk on Cornish Wildlife Photography

November - Arctic Charr Shoot

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Netting Pictures

Taking a more documentary style to the netting week i also decieded to turn a few monochorme

 Pulling the net across the lake
Fish getting closer together

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Anglers Paradise Netting week 2012

So i returned to the South West last week to photograph the netting at Anglers paradise in Devon one of the premier angling sites in the UK

This short video shows the process of the netting on the Koi lake

i have a quick chat with the owner Zyg Gregorek in his wine cellar (powerful stuff his wine not for the faint hearted!)

and finallly a UK first (possibley world) with footage of the golden tench feeding in the Tench lake

i had a fantastic time staying on site and look forward to next year.

Don't forget to like My Facebook Photography Page

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Kentish Newts

Thinking i wouldn't see any more herptiles this late in the year, i went to kent mainly for birds but was pleaslenty surprised by the amount of common lizards basking and newts in the wet grass.

i also happened upon my first ever great crested newt, underneath a carpet. Not as large as i thought it would of been but fantastic to see one.

as the days a getting colder the common lizards are making full use of any warm surface like these black tyres.

the great crested newts smaller cousin, the smooth newt was also present in the moss.

i didn't completely forget about the birds though as i shot this (very shaky sorry!) footage of a great white egret at RSPB Dungeness

Jacks Website

Hints -

- its illegal to handle great crested newts without a licence so i couldn't get any other angles when i found this one poking its head out. a fine of £5000 can be issued you are caught disturbing them! 

- october despite the cold weather closing in is a great month to photograph herps as they take longer to bask and are more sluggish allowing you to get closer for a shot!

- Be prepared! i didn't have a tripod with me when i saw the great white egret so my footage is shocking! but it shows a unusual species in the UK.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Isles of Scilly & Graduation

I returned to Cornwall this week to finally complete my BA Hons Marine & Natural History Photography degree. The graduation took most of the day but i couldn't stick around too much as i was traveling to the Isles of Scilly!

 Me (left) with fellow wildlife photographer Josh Jaggard (right)

After getting to the scillies i found a boat to go out on and find wildlife. Seabirds were very common with puffins, fulmars, gannets and cormorants all present on the island at certain times of year.

Grey seals are very common on the scillies, hauling up on rocks. Scilly lies 28 miles south of Penzance and a 15 minute plane ride.      

Bull seals are much larger than females and have little to fear in the surrounding waters. 

Hints -

- Boats can be a bit wobbly at the best of times so get a fast shutter speed to catch all the action.

- Take a a couple lens but a long lens is recommended. 

- The weather was dull and rainy so compensating on post production with contrast and vibrance is vital to bring the most of your work.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Peak District Trout & Grayling!

Living so close to the peak district i thought it was about time i got over there did some photography! having been assisting with the BBC all week filming coarse fish i thought i'd keep up the piscatorial antics but go for brown trout and grayling two fish i have long been after to photograph but as of today never had a chance.

at first they proved a little shy but..

once they got used to my presence they were more then happy to pose for me!

to top it of i also saw kingfisher, dipper and rainbow trout though the brown trout proved a little camera shy.

Video of todays fish below

Peak District fish filmed underwater

bug thanks to Rob Cuss who took me there to get the shots!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

An apology to Marsh Frogs

In a earlier post i mentioned that marsh frogs were out competing our native frogs but after i had a walk along the royal military canal in kent found a healthy population of both common and marsh frogs there. it also seems that the local grass snakes have greatly benefited from the marsh frogs as a extra food source!

I'm not advocating the release of non native species at all but it seems these little frogs actually benefit a lot or our wildlife including some of the rarer species.

i took a trip to dungeness in Kent and its no coincidence that the bitterns breeding there, purple herons showing up and other amphibian loving birds all do very well at this site because of the marsh frogs for a food source.

even in romney marsh where rare species like medical leeches and great crested newts can be found are benefiting from the marsh frogs with the leeches sucking there blood and newts eating the tadpoles.

so from the bottom of my heart sorry marsh frogs!...

... but not to sorry they still have the potential to spread Chytrid a deadly amphibian fungus and at the end of day shouldn't be in Britain but if they are here may as well enjoy them!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Jersey Part 2

With the success of the lizards i thought i'd try and get something a little different, Red squirrels! i very rarely get the chance to do mammals so when Mark had told be about the reds on the islands i jumped at the chance to get them!

Mark having studied them for a year knew the locations and where to find them. people put out special feeders for the squirrels and they tend to dot around them in the day having the same feeding times as us.

they are a lot smaller then the greys and harder to spot!

 great to try something different and will try and do more stuff with mammals

Thanks to Mark Fox

Hints -

- Be patient for the guys they will come but they can be very elusive

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Jersey - Part 1

So i recently took a trip to Jersey in the channel islands the most southern point in the UK. It had a wealth of wildlife to choose from and i had local photographer and friend Mark Fox to help me locate species.

With reptiles being one of my main interests i was keen to find the two lizards that can be found on jersey and not mainland Britain naturally the wall lizard and green lizard.

The wall lizards turned out to be a pleasant surprise as they weren't to scared of people and allowed me to get quite close with causing distress to the animal.

Green lizards on the other had prefer a different type of habitat and needed a little more skill to get the shot. using techniques i've done with sand lizards and common lizards i got up early so they would be out basking and slow moving allowing me to get closer without them running of.

Hints -

- you dont have to go to the seringeti to get great wildlife shots and remember britain is a island nation with hundreds of islands containing wildlife the mainland doesn't.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The forgotten fish of UK rivers

This is a subject very close to me as many people are unaware of whats going on. There are around a dozen 'Mini' species that live in UK freshwater. These fish have no food value and little angling value due to their size.

 3 Spined Stickleback ( Gasterosteus aculeatus)

However they provide food for all the more attractive species like Kingfishers, Dippers, Otters and Bigger fish like Trout and Pike. if these little fish aren't here the whole food chain suffers.

9 Spined Stickleback (Pungitius pungitius)

These fish are declining for unknown reasons as well as predation and being out competed by invasives  they are heavily unrecorded around the UK.

Stone Loach (Barbatula barbatula) 

Stone loach are found in clear and clean rivers and come out at night to feed

Spined Loach (Cobitis taenia)

The Spined loach is a separate species from the more common stone loach and only occurs in rivers and waterways in eastern england, which were once connected to the Rhine. The Great Ouse, Witham and Trent once joined the Rhine and together drained down a vast valley that is now the Channel, reaching the sea somewhere west of the Isle of Wight.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Sherwood Forest, a Tit and an Eagle

Having lived in Nottinghamshire most of my life I've often heard of Sherwood Forest but never taken the chance to visit the park until today. The actual forest covers historic landscapes over 181sq. miles from Worksop to Nottingham.

it was quite late in the day so not as many birds as i hoped to find but coal tits, blue tits and robins sited with nightjar and owls in the area.

one rather large bird was present a golden eagle!

it was however one of the attractions and not flying around the forest as it may of done jurying robin hoods time! fantastic bird huge.

Hints -

- Captive animals are as you might expect a lot easier to photograph then there wild counterparts and if photographed right can be made to lok natural.

- Forests can be very dark so remember to compensate with flash or aiming for a higher shutter speed.

- Get there early if you want a greater number and variety of birds by mid day most of them had fed and left.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


Visiting Kent over the weekend i took the chance to do the odd shoot in a few places. i found kent a very strange place to take pictures in as its a very falt county but has enormous amounts of natural beauty.

on the first day i visited Dymchurch a large beach with a good population of black headed gulls

afterwards i went along romney marsh in search of a invasive the marsh frog. they were introduced from hungry in the 1930s and have since spread across large parts of the south east. they are twice the size of native frogs and as well as out competing them tend to eat them!

on the way back i came across this unusual dragonfly not sure on the species but lovely coloration