Tag Archives: Shropshire

Wild Shropshire

Well it’s finally here.  Many of you will know that for the last couple of years I’ve been working on a fairly substantial collaborative project with Shropshire Wildlife Trust in preparation for and ultimately celebration of thier 50th anniversary in 2012.  The cornerstone of the project is my very first book – self-published too – called Wild Shropshire and this week it arrived from the printers and it’s now out there selling – with a very positive initial uptake too my wholesaler advises me!

There’s much much more to the whole Wild Shropshire proposition than the book though and you can read all about the various talk, exhibitions and a brand new photographic competition we’re running for next year too on it’s own bespoke website www.wildshropshire.co.uk .  There’s a separate blog too which I’ll be updating with different stuff to here and I’m even being persuaded to wander into the realms of Facebook on there ….. shortly for that though!  Perhaps more importantly (or so my accountant reminds me) you can also order a copy of the book there – it won’t be available on Amazon and we’re only looking to distribute it locally too so that all the earnings (including contributions to Shropshire Wildlife Trust) look to stay locally within the county too.

At the heart of the whole project is a desire to highlight that in a county such as Shropshire, probably not the first on the wildlife hotspot radar, there is still an incredible array of diversity in terms of wildlife and habitat to be found: if you’re prepared to put the time in trying to find it.  My recent BWPA video award is a typical such example – the lake in question is in the middle of a Telford housing estate and for many not worth a second glance but for almost 2 months I was drawn every morning to record and observe the dramas of one family of Great Crested Grebes and their neighbouring Coots.  How many more such dramatic opportunities play themselves out every day near to your home?

We also want to encourage and inspire residents and visitors to the county to take some time to find their own bit of Wild Shropshire and record it on camera themselves – hence the photography competition which is open to all.

It’s been a great deal of work, has caused several sleepless nights (particularly filling in some of the more difficult gaps in terms of iconic and important species or habitats that I wanted to include) and there has been much help and support along the way from Ellie, Mike, and John and Sarah from SWT – many many thanks to you all, and without getting too far ahead of myself (and also proving that I’m a real glutton for punishment) the next book project is already well underway too!

Hope you find and enjoy this one.

British Wildlife Photography Awards

I’m pleased to say that this morning it has been announced that I have won the BWPA 2011 Video category with a short film I made earlier this year when sepending most of the Spring with a local family of Great Crested Grebes.  You may reacall from a prior blog post just what it cost in terms of lenses too!

I owe a great deal of thanks to friend and fellow photographer Paul Bunyard who really got my head round the capablilities of SLRs when it comes to video and also got me started with the otherwise daunting process of editing all the various clips that the several weeks I spent with these birds generated, the hardest part of which was getting it all down to the one minute running time requirement of the competition!

Paul and I co-run weekends teaching how to get the most out of your SLR from a video perspective (there’s much more to it than simply turning to the video setting) as well as the editing side of things too and you can find details of our next one here:

http://www.natures-images.co.uk/pages/holidays/video-training-weekends.php

I was also really pleased to achieve a Highly Commended for the Watching the Roost image in the Living Landscape category and for my local town canals Swimming Cygnet shot to be chosen for inclusion in the book of this years competition as well.

I’ve never been one that enjoys blowing thier own trumpet generally but on days like this it’s always nice to know that your work is both recognised as well as appreciated.

Pearl Beauties

I’ve always loved my macro photography at this time of year and our beautiful Butterflies have to be right up there amongst my favourite subjects to work with.  When I got an e-mail from a good friend Jason to tell me that he’d found a meadow for Pearl Bordered Fritillaries that was working well at his end of the county it was only a question of sorting out a day when I could squeeze an early morning session in and that worked for him too since he has a proper job to do!

You can see why I was particularly keen to get up for another pre-dawn run as these really are one of the prettiest species we are lucky enough to enjoy in the UK in my opinion and after some initial anxiety on both our parts as we searched for their overnight roosts all worked out well and it was well worth the effort.

This fellow had obviously had a tussle with a predator of some sort as part of his wing was missing and as a species these beautiful butterflies have been struggling significantly over recent years and are still in sharp decline.  This is due mostly to the lack of clearings in their woodland habitats as the whole traditional practice of coppicing has almost disappeared except where woods are specifically managed for wildlife.  Their hillside habitats too have been under pressure as general grazing by cattle and ponies that traditionally kept the balance between grass and bracken in check and these habitats have become more scrublike in their nature.

When working with a subject like this I like to try and cover a number of different options and and compositions as well as the classic side-on profile that I opened with, and although some of these may not be very classical I like the fact that they get across some personality as well as the inherent beauty in these delicate species.

I particularly like this last one – an approach you often see with damsel and dragonflies but less so with butterflies – I think it works quite well.

Thanks for a good morning Jason, and I know you got some decent stuff yourself too!