Cuckoo egg predation

This is my all time favourite shot. It would not have been possible without the help of an expert, here, Oxford cuckoo guru Mike Bayliss. The aim was to film a cuckoo laying in a reed warbler's nest, and several times we had come very close. After many hours in the hide I heard this female land heavily in the reeds to the right of the nest - I can still hardly believe it happened.

Cuckoo egg predation

Komodo dragon

This type of filming has been about 80% of my work these last couple of years...presenter led programmes with a good percentage of wildlife filming. Gavin Thurston was on RInca Island 2 weeks before the rest of the crew getting the 'meatier' sequences.

Komodo dragon

Talk of the Town

There were two of us working on this one, the other cameraman being Keith Brust. Filming often brings with it privileged access, and this was one of those times. I spent many days on my own on the Vermejo Ranch in New Mexico, ticking off shots from the list. Other times I was with a crew and a team of scientists trying to unravel the mysterious language of prairie dogs.

Talk of the Town

Seasons – Alan Titchmarsh

Autumn and the Wye Valley makes for a wondrous combination. The locations here are just a few miles up the road from our house. We can't take the credit for nice light and conditions, but you can make your own luck by being out there early as often as you can in the best locations.

Seasons – Alan Titchmarsh

Camargue flamingoes

Not being very big can be a massive advantage sometimes. Imagine a small rowing boat with a wooden hide on board and a small slit to poke the lens through. Then knock out the bottom of the stern of the boat. Cram yourself inside with a tripod and start walking slowly towards the flamingos whilst occasionally vanishing into holes in the bottom of the lagoon. I love this job.

Camargue flamingoes

Harvest mice

Over the years I have done quite a lot of set filming. In all honesty I find it quite stressful, as the priority has to be the well-being of the animals. In any case, if they're not relaxed they're not going to behave naturally. These little chaps were on loan from a research project. We were always hoping that they would breed while in our care, but they never did.

Harvest mice

Wildlife Cameraman Blog Snippets

Born in the year of the rat

Born in the year of the rat

Born in the year of the rat: I’ve never thought about it before. That’s the trouble sometimes, thinking too much. We have a very friendly Chinese takeaway nearby. Every year they give us a calendar. I looked at it while munching on some noodles and realised that I was born in the year of the rat. I’m not sure how significant that is for a wildlife cameraman, but I have had many encounters with rats over the years. This is one of them.

Born in the year of the rat
Rat eats a digestive biscuit – milk chocolate of course

My wife was born in the year of the rooster. Perhaps that’s what makes us so compatible. Just before the end of last year I had been working in a very nice studio on a programme about pig intelligence. That is by the by. The owner of the studio had been looking after some harvest mice and was looking for a good home for them. I had one in mind.

I think I’ve been a member of the Gwent Wildlife Trust for more than forty years, boy and man. I do some voluntary video work for the Trust from time to time. At Magor Marsh the Trust has an education centre, and out in the fields near the education centre you can find harvest mice. Will you ever see one? Unlikely. Will the eager kids who come to the centre ever see one? No. So, thinking as a wildlife cameraman, and someone born in the year of the rat, I thought it would be great to have these captive harvest mice in a large display tank at the reserve. They can live perfectly happily like that. That’s why my wife and went back to the studio, to collect the mice.

The studio was host to a large number of rats, tame, for a film project. There were loads of them in cages in a side room just waiting to be filmed. Mostly cute, some were getting on a bit, and they tend to look less attractive as they age. Don’t we all. Anyway, before decanting the harvest mice into a travelling container we all sat down and had a cuppa. My wife isn’t that fond of rats. I happened to glance down under the table just as our friend said, very calmly, “Oh, there’s a rat”. It reminded me of that old ‘Fawlty Towers’ episode when a rat sticks its head out of a biscuit tin just as Basil is offering it to a guest. In this instance the rat was sat on my wife’s foot.

If you’re born in the year of the rat then perhaps these things don’t phase you. And to my delight neither did it phase my wife. She sat there quite calmly as our friend picked it up and fed it part of a digestive biscuit. I think a lot of people would have jumped onto the table making a lot of noise. All good fun!

 

 

Graham Horder - wildlife cameraman

I'm a freelance documentary and wildlife cameraman, wildlife photographer with a track record for filming blue-chip natural history and presenter and contributor led documentaries for the BBC, ITV and other major television channels. Most of the time I film TV programmes with natural history as the subject matter, but I happily film sport, music videos, drama and other types of television documentary.

It is slightly inaccurate to say 'wildlife photography' as a description for 'wildlife filming', but all wildlife cinematographers become used to the alternative title. Being a wildlife cameraman is very different to taking still photographs, though the principles of getting close to wild behaviour and respecting the subject are exactly the same.

From the outside a career as a wildlife cameraman looks like a very attractive way to live. It is, but it doesn't suit everyone. For young people, take advice from someone who is doing it, then see if you can assist them in any way. You will have to persevere... and persevere.

Filming wildlife is something that I love. Like many colleagues I'd happily do it for nothing... and sometimes I do. Many of us would continue to film wildlife as a hobby if it were not our profession.

This article by Matt Hamilton is a really great description of a part of a filming trip we went on last year.