2017 marks my 20th anniversary as a wildlife photographer. Through two decades I’ve taken a photographic journey from Ugandan gorillas and ten years with the wild tigers of central India, to Wild London, Wildlife Wonder and water voles or sleeping kingfishers on my doorstep. To celebrate, I have plenty of exciting projects planned including a major schools initiative and #52Wild 2017 in photos – a year long weekly photography study of both my home patch and further away. One #52Wild sequence follows my local river and its wildlife, the other showing diverse seasonal wildlife at varied locations in the UK. Enjoy the journey.
Week 26 (25th – 30th June) of #52Wild Local Patch Roosting marbled white butterflies in local meadow – pure wonder.
Week 26 of #52Wild Away Wildlife wonder with families and the Canal & River Trust at the Bath Festival of Nature.
And wild creativity with Stanborough art students in Welwyn Garden City.
Week 25 (18th – 24th June) of #52Wild Local Patch Its all about marbled white butterflies and meadows this week.
Week 25 of #52Wild Away Hot sun, scorched grasslands and a mass of butterflies in the meadows at Greystones Nature Reserve. Wonderful day with community group – we’ve never see so many butterflies.
Week 24 (11 – 17 June) of #52Wild Local Is this not the most sunning insect? First encountered a few weeks ago, in London, I hoped I would see one again. So I was stunned to see this Ruby-Tailed Wasp on my garden fence. Incredible colours.
Week 24 of #52Wild Away Its not often that Great White Egrets come this close – wonderful views with my group on RSPB Ham Wall in Somerset.
Week 23 (4th – 10 June) of #52Wild Local Patch Just brief moments along the river as busy week away.
Week 23 of #52Wild Away Working with students of Bourton-On-the-Water Primary & Secondary schools photographing the wildlife just a short walk from their classrooms at Greystones Nature Reserve (Glos Wildlife Trust). Wonderful observation by the pupils, which will feature in an exhibition next year
Week 22 (28th May – 3rd June) of #52Wild Local Patch Special moments during our Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust family photo safari – my first local sighting of a roe deer and her fawn.
And lovely views of dipper too.
Week 22 of #52Wild Away A wonderfully busy community day exploring Greenwich Ecology Park with people of all ages. Butterflies, damselfly, heron and nesting tern enthralling visitors.
Week 21 (21st – 27th May) of #52Wild LocalPatch Not only sparrows enjoying the mayfly emergence. I’ve been mesmerised by their flights on the warm evenings this week.
Week 21 of #52Wild Awa Celebrating the amazing Wildlife Skills programme with Devon, Dorset, Somerset & Wiltshire Wildlife Trusts – a wonderful start to the week. So special to catch-up with the trainees I’ve worked with over the past three years and see what career paths they have taken.
In Somerset exploring the Levels and enjoying the bird & 4-spot dragonfly extravaganza. How often do you see, barn owl, cuckoo, marsh harrier & bittern in just one hour in the middle of the day.
And discovering a huge crayfish with group during BBOWT photography day at the Nature Discovery Centre!
Week 20 (14th – 20th May) of #52Wild Local Patch Sunshine after the rains
Week 20 (14th – 20th May) of #52Wild Away
Exploring the Thames with a group from the Chiswick Pier Trust. So much wildlife and plenty of wild surprises.
And nesting herons!
Week 19 (7th – 13th May) of #52Wild Local Patch Love Swifts! 15 in the skies above
And a fledgling dipper
Week 19 of #52Wild Away A wonderful glimpse of a moorhen family WWT Slimbridge
Taking a different point of view – the low down on lizards at the London Wetland Centre
And skywards damselfly silhouettes
Week 18 (30th April – 6th May) of #52Wild Local Patch Fabulous views of water voles
And special moments watching my local Grey Wagtail and Dipper pairs feeding their newly fledge young.
Week 18 of #52Wild Away The first of many – an orange tip! Through spring summer and autumn I’m leading a variety of community photography days at the wonderful Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust Greystones Farm reserve. An exhibition of the photography and filming by local people, students and school children will take place in Spring 2018
Week 17 (23rd – 29th April) of #52Wild Local Patch Plenty of water vole activity as riverbank vegetation becomes more dense.
Week 17 of #52Wild Away – birthday celebrations in the Wye Valley
and superb starlings at the London Wetland Centre
Week 16 (16-22 April) of #52Wild Local Patch Celebrations as the first swallows and house martins arrive.
Week 16 of #52 Wild Away Enjoying the wildflower extravaganza at Wiltshire Wildlife Trusts Lower Moor Farm – swathes of snakehead fritillaries…
together with cowslips and blackthorn blossom.
Week 15 (9-15 April) of #52Wild Local Patch A fantastic week watching my local water voles with friends from Oxfordshire & Hertfordshire. Each day we’ve seen something different – new vole holes and territorial behaviour, arrival of a pair of kingfishers and my first damselfly of the year.
Sniffing scent message from another vole’s dropping
Love watching them swim – like furry paddle-steamers
Water edge feeding.
Week 15 #52Wild Away – I love leading family wildlife photography events, seeing the differing way we each view the world, cross-generation enthusiasm for nature and of the course the creative photography. This week I led a family event at WWT Slimbridge, and were treated with wonderful spring sightings – everyone saw and photographed kingfishers.
But perhaps my favourite discovery, spotted by one of the children on the event, was this Brimstone moth resting on a model kingfisher!
Wonderful woodland colours in Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Lower Woods
Week 14 (2-8 April) of #52Wild Local Patch Increasing visibility of water voles this week, as they feed on the new riverbank vegetation. I believe that there are four breeding females in just one 400m stretch of the river. More water voles next week!
Week 14 of #52Wild Away A wonderful with Yr1 & Reception children at Wallscourt Farm Academy exploring the wildlife in their school grounds. Photos by pupils (age 5 & 6)
Up above, the children watch a buzzard being mobbed by a raven
And enjoy discovering the sudden emergence of ladybirds.
Week 13 of #52Wild Local Patch I’ve been enjoying plenty of water vole activity this week – this one feeding on garlic mustard and celandine
Week 13 of #52Wild Away. On Monday and Tuesday I worked with GCSE Art students at Bristol Met Academy observing and photographing the natural world in their school grounds. The surprise discovery of the sessions was finding a number of dotted bee-flys (a national scarce species) resting near the school entrance.
Bee Fly larva are a parasitic on other bees – the Arkive website indicates that the host bee is thought to be one of the mining bees but the exact species not known. From the students observation and photography it was clear that these Bee Flys were gathering around a colony of Ashy Mining Bee (pic below) – almost certainly their host species. I love it when student studies can contribute to our understanding and realise how much potential there is for developing valuable science study within schools.
Week 12 of #52Wild Local Patch Signs of spring – celandine cloaked banks and well-used water vole holes.
Week 12 of #52Wild Away Good morning fellow daffodils. We are gathered here today to…
Week 11 of #52Wild Local Patch Just brief moments along the river among a busy week away.
Week 11 of #52Wild Away Three days exploring the grounds of Blenheim Palace with local Woodstock school children. So much Wildlife Wonder & natural science discovered! From fabulous feathers to mating brimstone butterflies.
Woodstock pupils showing off their wild school grounds to local MP Robert Courts
A wonderful end to the week enjoying the London Wetland Centre with photography group and my first lizard of the year.
Week 10 of #52Wild LocalPatch Love the celandine starry skies in my local churchyard and slowly appearing along the river
Week9 of #52Wild Away Enjoying my first butterfly of spring and my last murmuration of the winter, the starlings will soon disperse, most heading beyond the UK to breed.
And enjoying stunning views over Bristol with students
Week 8 of #52Wild Local Patch – celebrating the wonderful discovery of frogspawn in local ponds.
Week8 of #52Wild Away – A busy week away. Creativity beyond the classroom with teachers in Coventry, exploring beautiful Swanage with the Purbeck Literary Festival winning school and a photography day with adults in Berkshire. Plus a brief visit to the glorious RSPB Arne- all visitors personally welcomed by Robin!
Spring arrives in Swanage – photo by pupil at St Marks
Week 7 of #52Wild Local Patch – wonderful moments as the warmer weather brings my first water vole sighting of 2017. My family and I watched it for 5 minutes feeding on riverside vegetation.
Along the river there are plenty of signs of vole activity
Week7 of #52Wild Away – first glimpse of spring in London
And watching an extraordinary starling murmurations in Somerset with my group from PTES.
More than a million-strong the starlings settled, crammed on the branches of a few old trees – so began of one of the most intense, unusual and longest murmurations I’ve enjoyed.
A pre-roost gathering, together they erupted from the tree’s laden boughs and poured into a rough green field just in front of us. Unusual behaviour, the starlings were clearly unsettled.
A few moments later the starlings lifted off – their river flowing over our heads and into distant reedbeds. In the best ‘seats’, dotted with droppings and so captivated by stunning natural performance, it was only afterwards that we realised we had been watching the starling show for well over an hour.
Week 6 of #52Wild Local Patch – 8am, enjoying the lightest fall of snow.
Week 6 of #52Wild Away – In Bristol with school children exploring the wildlife on our doorstep – photos by children (age 6 -10)
Week 5 of #52Wild Local Patch – swollen after heavy rains the river is flowing fast
Week 5 of #52Wild Away. Glimpse of a goshawk (my first ever) – hunting above the Slimbridge WWT wetlands
Nearby a bittern – showings its fantastic camouflage!
In contrast – the wonderful colours of a mallard at the London Wetland Centre.
Week 4 of #52Wild Local Patch – a vibrant stream of grey, brown and yellow. (Grey Wagtail & Dipper)
Week4 of #52Wild Away – Exploring frosty Bristol with St Barnabas Primary school pupils on our MShed Wildlife Photographer of the Year urban nature safari. Photo by pupil (age8). Brilliant blog & photos by children here
On the Somerset Levels with adult group we were treated to ten minutes watching an elusive water rail, plus hunting marsh harriers, egrets and glimpses of a fishing king.
Ending our day watching a mesmerising murmuration in the skies above, but confusion as the starlings descended into a very unsettled roost.
Week 3 of #52Wild Local Patch – A dull but mild start to the week.
Delighted yo see the first celandine flowers appearing along the river – vital early food for water voles.
Week 3 of #52Wild – Away. A busy week working with groups & schools in Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset & London and Wildlife Skills trainees at the gorgeous Wiltshire Wildlife Trust Langford Lakes.
Stunning views of the starling murmuration and roost at sunset with a group from PTES
Ended an amazing week at WWT London – my photography group treated to wonderful views of the secretive and well camouflaged bittern.
Week 2 of #52Wild Local Patch – Sadly no snow here this week, but I did find this gorgeous ice-dog along the riverside path!
And the dipper singing from a temporarily raised flotsam island
No Week 2 #52Wild Away photos this week – but will be plenty in Week 3 as I’m in Wiltshire, Somerset & London
Week 1 of #52Wild Local Patch – Frosty along the river this morning (3rd Jan), fieldfare and blackbird feasting on fallen apples, plus a brief glimpse of a dipper.
Through the week I’ve enjoyed wonderful views of the dippers, including a territorial dispute. Managed to film a few seconds, do take a look at my short film – dipper-dispute
Week 1 of #52Wild Away – Starlings roosting last night (2nd Jan) from trees protruding above reeds at RSPB Ham Wall in Somerset