Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Top Ten Wildlife Experiences of 2015

2015 has been a great year for me and enjoyed many wildlife spectacles and events that I've been wanting to do for a long time. I often get a bit blasé with the locations and wildlife I see so Its nice to take a look back on the year and see what I've gotten up to.

10. In Pursuit 

 Filming for 'In Pusuit' in France

Many of you reading this will well know I'm quite keen on fish so its no surprise that I enjoy angling also and following on from working on Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing for Skysports last year I was working on another angling series called In Pursuit. It was a great series to shoot on and as well as interviews, time lapse and presenter led work I was able to get plenty of wildlife shots which I particularly enjoyed when shooting in France for nearly a month. I had many firsts with night herons, white storks, turtle doves and a rather horny coypu trying to get in my tent which I'd rather not talk about!

       Scarce Swallowtail                                                                       Hummingbird Hawk-Moth
For me the highlight of the wildlife was the moths and butterflies having been to norfolk many times to see swallowtails I was treated to dozens in a french lavendar garden (the scarce species anyway) and lots of hummingbird hawk moths really stunning insects.

9. Ospreys

Having seen ospreys both times at Birdfair I really wanted a closer view with my camera to hand and heard of a local trout farm which has had the ospreys visiting regularly grabbing the odd trout. a 4am start and short drive got me and friend Harry Hall to the hide and although we saw one fly over it wasn't meant to be. A follow up trip resulted in a much better encounter and the osprey went in to grab a rainbow trout. I did get one shot but nothing I was happy with as the light was just not out enough for my camera to get a decent shot so may warrant a return trip in 2016!

8. Cairngorms

Female Ptarmigan 

Looking back I almost forgot I'd even been to the Cairngorms this year let alone spending two weeks up there and one of them leading a photographic tour with Josh Jaggard. The first week was mostly about getting images that previously had eluded me so two grouse species were on my thoughts ptarmigan and black grouse. The ptarmigan proved relatively easy once you get your eye in and ears tweaked for there call. Black grouse however were a different kettle of fish.

Male Black Grouse 

I've used hides for many species but this was the first time I'd slept in one over night. Now conditions were more or less ideal in the night little wind, no snow and open skies and it was still bloody freezing and my sleeping bag become part of a pond with me in it! Come the morning I was wet, cold and not in a great mood with little to no sleep topping off the fact I could hear Josh snoring like a trooper next door as if to rub it in. However as soon as heard the male black grouse outside I soon forgot the past several hours and had a amazing experience with males nearly brushing up against the hide completely unaware of me. A unforgettable night and morning for many reasons!

Common Frog near the cottage

The other thing I enjoyed photographing was some of the less glamorous species up there like frogs, toads and insect larvae in the rivers.

7. Barn Owl

Barn Owl

As part of my work I'm lucky that I get to work all over the UK but I very much enjoy finding wildlife thats local to me and on the way to doing a workshop for Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust I noticed a barn owl flying over a field. I drove down a country lane and parked up alone a fence line and sure enough the barn owl landed metres from me an amazing sight that was totally unplanned and still made it in time for my workshop.

6. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Film

Invasive Signal Crayfish 

I've been filming various wildlife and issues along the River Derwent for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and have really enjoyed the challenge so far as its involved many filming techniques I don't do as often as I'd like. One part was highlighting non natives like signal crayfish which has infested some rivers to the point that nothing else is found in them.

Hen Atlantic Salmon in Derbyshire

One success story is the return of salmon to Derbyshire the most inland population in the country. The film is going well and will continue into next year and be finished by september when showings will go out locally as well as being put online for anyone to see.

5. Pond Tank

Dragonfly Larvae 

There are some very talented 'pond tankers' Neil phillips springing to mind and its something I'm still learning about but have done a fair bit this year. I've found it one of the most challenging forms of wildlife photography in trying to get pictures to look natural and not like they have been taken in a shoddy aquarium much harder then in sounds! Its a great way to work with very small subjects which can be difficult to locate in a pond or river and can live in very murky water normally ruling out underwater photography.

4. Hedgehogs

Twiggy being released 

I personally have never had a issue with 'staged' wildlife shots providing people are honest about the image, hedgehogs for example are rarely out in the day unless very sick so getting daylight images of them is tough thus I headed to a hedgehog rescue centre who were released a few at dusk with just enough light to snap a few portraits off. They have had a tough time recently with massive declines so happy to provide images to the centre.

3. Springwatch/Countryfile 

As well as filming for TV this year I've featured on the other end of the camera a few times also! Springwatch was a real highlight for me and we went to the welsh wye to film what fish were hanging around. It ended up that we didn't film that many species but it was more about me and my obsession with filming lots of fish species.

Watch the clip here

Springwatch Crew 

If Springwatch wasn't enough I then was contacted by Countryfile who wanted to interview me again about fish and this time a bit closer to home in the Peak District with wild brown trout. They got in touch again for another episode this time filming something with feathers for a change! It hasn't aired yet but will be on the Winer Special Jan 4th.


Highly Commended BWPA 2015 Animal Portraits

For the last 5 years I've been short listed for the British Wildlife Photography Awards but never got any further until this year when a little minnow got me in the book and the exhibition. I'm not a overly competitive photographer but its always nice to have your work recognised by peers and odd free glass of wine didn't go a miss at the private view either ;)

1. Shetland

 Stunning wildlife, stunning scenery welcome to Shetland

Shetland had long been on my wildlife destinations hitlist (which seems to get longer each year) but decided to take the plunge and get a flight to Sumburgh. I then got a hire car and had to drive 3 hours north with two ferry crossings to get to Unst which considered I'd only been driving a couple weeks prior was quite pleased I got there in one piece! The plan was to do mainly underwater but that went out the window when I got hooked on puffins and otters!

 Son and Mum in the kelp

I really wanted a image of a otter underwater and do intended to visit shetland again at some point to do but stuck to topside work mostly for this trip. Walking nearly 10 miles each day trying to spot otters along the coastline was exhausting but ended up with many encounters seeing more otters then I can remember. 

Me and Josh failing to get a puffin decent selfie

Overall its been a great year and next year looks even busier with a few projects planned, a book, on TV twice in January and much more. Have a great new years eve and a happy new year  

Jack Perks

Facebook: Jack Perks Photography


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