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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It all came around so quickly, Series end – Great Orme, Padarn. The series is ‘Great Welsh Parks 3’ for BBC Wales. Everyone thought that two series would be a struggle, so three?
The view above is one that I came to know quite well over the course of the series. Padarn is a country park next to Llanberis in Snowdonia. Tourists will know it well. Llanberis Pass has to be one of the most beautiful drives in Wales. From Llanberis you can take a steam train to the top of Snowdonia, or another around the lake. On a Bank Holiday in spring or summer the lakeside will be alive with people. Many come just to look, others to partake in various activities such as climbing and canoeing.
Series end – Great Orme, Padarn
The Great Orme was another of our chosen parks. Parks by their very nature should attract people and this one certainly does. From a wildlife cameraman point of view my favourite visit was the one we spent filming stoats. Why? You just don’t see them that often, and we had good views of this one. I’m looking forward to seeing how it works in the programme. Goats can be very placid most of the time, but at least the billies had a bit of a go at each other on our last trip to The Orme.
Back to Padarn: ring ousel put on a singing show for us on our very first visit to the park and we had a male sitting on top of some industrial debris singing its head off. Speaking of ‘heads off’, it would have been wary of peregrines. They were almost always around the slate hewn slopes, and last week we glimpsed one stooping at a lone redwing, No wonder those redwing were jumpy, but we did film some shots of them on the copious crop of rowan berries, but they never sat still for more than a few seconds.
Next week we’ll be rounding up the series at Dare and Margam Parks so let’s hope the weather holds out.
Filming kingfishers – autumn is here Filming kingfishers now that autumn is here turned out to be a very enjoyable filming session. For more information about kingfishers have a look at the kingfisher link. As a wildlife cameraman I have filmed kingfishers many times. Last week I was filming them for a BBC Wales programme.… Continue Reading
Filming an infra red bat sequence Filming an infra red bat sequence can be quite challenging. The welfare of the bats always comes first. Lesser horseshoe bats are protected by legislation. If you’d like to know a little more about them follow this link. A few days ago we were in North Wales to film… Continue Reading
I'm a freelance documentary and wildlifecameraman, 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.