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

Filming great crested grebes

Filming great crested grebes

Last week our team went out filming great crested grebes. The great crested grebe is a beautiful bird, some would even say exotic.  From a wildlife cameraman viewpoint it is a fascinating bird.

wildlife cameraman filming great crested grebes on canal
great crested grebe on canal

 

Urban location

Filming great crested grebes doesn’t have to take you far from the city.  We have been working on a series about the wildlife of cities, and when you look closely it is surprising what you can find in the most urban of environments.  This great crested grebe nest is a traditional site.  Every year for the last few years these grebes have nested on a disused canal just a short walk from the beating heart of Cardiff.  Other birds nest nearby too: coot nests are scattered up and down the canal, one famously displaying a parking ticket which the bird must have gathered up after an angry car owner threw it away.

Danger everywhere

Wildlife cameraman filming great crested grebes in Cardiff
Great crested grebe with single egg

This nest had become quite well known over the years.  In fact when we went to the site to film I bumped into a couple of photographers I recently met at Magor Marsh, so the location is hardly one of those wildlife cameraman exclusive places. Grebes aren’t particularly shy when it comes to nesting.  Grebe eggs are big and white and very attractive to a number of predators.  Over the course of a few days two of the eggs vanished.  To me they didn’t seem particularly good at keeping the remaining egg covered.  Crows, magpies, gulls, rats, herons and other species pose a threat.  The adult grebes themselves have to beware, because large pike inhabit the canal and they are quite capable of killing them.

Wildlife cameraman filming great crested grebes
Great crested grebe responds to approach of mate

We waited around long enough for the male to return to the nest whereupon a little bit of interplay took place between the paired birds. This series doesn’t offer the days of filming per sequence beloved of a wildlife cameraman.  About an hour and that was our lot, but detailed behaviour was not the point of the sequence, it was just to demonstrate how this beautiful creature can breed right in the middle of a city.

Iolo Williams – M4 relief road will plough across Gwent Levels

Iolo Williams – M4 relief road will plough across Gwent Levels Iolo Williams – M4 relief road will plough across Gwent Levels.  For several years the Welsh Government has threatened to drive a new motorway through the Gwent Levels.  It’s the sort of thing that governments do.  Perhaps they think that they will leave a… Continue Reading

Great Welsh Parks Margam Park

Great Welsh Parks Margam Park Great Welsh Parks Margam Park was broadcast on Monday night,  BBC One Wales.  You can catch up with it here on BBC iPlayer.  Memories of being a wildlife cameraman usually revolve around the difficulties and circumstances of capturing a particular sequence. However, at Margam, I don’t think any of the… Continue Reading

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.