Blog Introduction

In this blog I intend to share my personal experiences of being a wildlife cameraman. I'll also write about nature conservation, and anything related that I want to have a rant about. It's said that the novel is the last bastion of free speech, so I'll also be featuring my work on 'The Life and Times of Tudor Morgan' series. In between times I like chopping wood, in a microscopic way: it's like a therapy, so I'll be writing about wood sculpture too.

Wildlife Cameraman Blog

Author Archives: filmit

The Spirit of the Kite

The Spirit of the Kite is first novel in ‘The Life and Times of Tudor Morgan‘ series.

For some time I have wanted to write a novel that captured the essence of being a wildlife cameraman within the genre of murder mystery. In addition I wanted nature conservation to be key to the storyline. In The Spirit of the Kite I hope I’ve achieved that without sacrificing a good page turning yarn. In addition I wanted humour and a feelgood factor. You will have to judge for yourselves.

Last year I met Ian Rankin, my favourite author, in Chepstow Bookshop. I mentioned that I was writing a novel based around a wildlife cameraman and he was very encouraging. The result, novel two, featuring Tudor Morgan, is well on the way. I haven’t decided on a name for that one yet but it will be The Spirit of the … and will feature hen harrier persecution amongst other crimes.

The Spirit of the Kite – outline: black coffee again: no milk in the fridge, but plenty of adder venom – useful one day perhaps. After a tragic end to his career as a special forces sniper, Tudor Morgan has settled into his new life as a wildlife cameraman. He’s been commissioned to film a BBC documentary about the near extinct red kite in the mountainous heart of rural Wales. Preparation is going well until close friends ask for help with the burial of a loved one under the kite nesting tree. Why not – he owns a shovel. But someone witnesses the clandestine burial, an intruder contracted to steal the kites’ eggs. Fate has dangled a juicy bait – the interloper is Gavin Grey, so-called comrade, the scumbag that murdered Tudor’s lover on the mission that ended his military career. With the community, the kites, the documentary and his own life on the line, Tudor concludes that imaginative and devastating revenge is the most attractive option.

Tudor Morgan – the character: bypassing the local police, Tudor metes out his own brand of justice. He allies his military training with the cynicism of John Rebus, but he’s more Jack Frost than Jack Reacher. He’s a likeable, unlikely hero, a true champion of the countryside.

Wildlife Wood Sculpting

Wildlife Wood Sculpting

For most of my working life I have travelled the world filming wildlife for TV programmes, capturing the natural behaviour of birds, mammals and insects. Back home in Chepstow I use sustainably sourced wood (often from our garden) to create fantasy sculptures of my filming experiences.

I am very pleased to say that some of my sculptures are now being exhibited at Toast in Tutshill, which is a brilliant cafe venue with a great sense of community. Drop in and say ‘hi’, or something else. The sculptures are for sale there.

wildlife cameraman private eye

wildlife cameraman private eye

When you had your careers advice chat at school were you disappointed? I was, because the adviser told me that there was no such job as ‘naturalist’. How things have changed, and for the better. It’s so different now, and I wonder what they’d have thought if I’d said I wanted to be a wildlife cameraman private eye?

wildlife cameraman private eye
arboreal, omnivorous, mildly irritating

the curtain twitched

A coniferous forest in Scotland, I think that’s a good place to film red squirrels. Here I am sitting in a car in Anglesey and thinking of wilder places. I’m breaking the tedium by listening to Pop Master on Radio 2 with Ken Bruce. I haven’t seen a squirrel for several hours and the curtains are starting to twitch. This is a respectable neighbourhood with leaf blowers and litter by Sainsburys, and I feel watched. The hand of a wealthy pensioner twitches a curtain to look at the stranger in the camouflaged hat and she calls neighbourhood watch. I knew I should never have ditched the SAAB. Affronted by my thoughts the windows of the little C4 steam up even more.

wildlife cameraman private eye

nothing happened… absolutely nothing

Time ticks on, and despite me answering an obscure question about Showaddywaddy my spirits remain low. A man shuffles down his drive to blow leaves from his lawn onto the street and pretends he isn’t writing down my car number. Thanks mate, I mumble, red squirrels just love the sound of a leaf blower.

“Have you seen anything Gra?” The 2 way radio disturbs an abstract reverie involving beach volleyball players and radio microphones. There’s another car down the street containing the rest of the crew and I count my blessings. That car must be like an ice hockey changing room by now and when the wind’s in the right direction I’m sure I can smell it. “No,” I reply honestly, and I smear away the condensation to check there are no squirrels sitting on the bonnet.

another hour and another

The radio messages come thicker and faster as our communication, like the leaves, head for the gutter. I hear, “There’s more chance of seeing a red squirrel at a pencil museum,” before the battery goes flat, and it’s just as well, because I was devoid of a witty riposte. Suddenly my heart jumps and I make ready to man the camera. I can see something with a bushy tail creeping along behind the cotoneaster. But it’s a false alarm; I’ve been duped by an immensely fat tabby and I now hate cats even more.

maybe another time

As the hours drag I resign myself to the prospect of not seeing a red squirrel cavorting on this particular suburban street today. Somebody raps on the car window and I see a very refined looking lady holding a tray of fine china cups and shortbread biscuits. Bless her: I am the object of someone’s pity. If it had been the police I would not have been in the least surprised, and perhaps a little relieved that police on the street actually do exist in these times of austerity. The lady is lovely, and the shortbread biscuits, imbued with a hint of lemon, are just fine. Soon the whole crew is huddled around, lamenting our lack of success with the philosophy of, ‘Maybe another time.’ That’s the end of my time as a wildlife cameraman private eye, for today at least, so roll on the next time, and the next…

For more information about red squirrels have a look here and ponder on the injustice of having vulgaris in your scientific name.

dark wet miserable brilliant

dark wet miserable brilliant Being a wildlife cameraman isn’t all fun, but usually there is positive to be had. That’s why I’ve called this ‘dark wet miserable brilliant.’ One day in early December we set out to film a couple more sequences in our city life series. The forecast said ‘dark wet miserable brilliant.’ OK,… Continue Reading

filming wildlife sequences – part one

filming wildlife sequences – part one how to keep editors happy If you can keep editors happy with your sequence building ability, congratulations. If any of them ever says, ‘Today’s lesson is filming wildlife sequences – part one,’ just listen with humility. You will almost certainly learn something. filming wildlife sequences – part one: this… Continue Reading

listen to the future generation

listen to the future generation “listen to the future generation” –  that’s the title of a film we produced recently, and here it is, released. I don’t work only as a wildlife cameraman. Sometimes our company makes corporate videos, and sometimes those videos are about nature conservation. This one is about a potentially devastating plan… Continue Reading

Great spotted woodpecker drumming sequel

Great spotted woodpecker drumming sequel Great spotted woodpecker drumming sequel: well, here’s the shot. I’m still not happy though. Ask any wildlife cameraman and you will rarely find that they are totally happy with anything they shoot. The shot could always be, ‘Just a little bit closer; if only there was no heat haze.’ And… Continue Reading

wildlife cameraman and beyond

wildlife cameraman and beyond Wildlife cameraman and beyond: it sounds like a bad title for a low budget movie. One day you’ll find it at the bottom of the £1 bin at Asda. You’ll be tempted to buy it for your friend, who just loves ‘those David Attenborough films’, but your friend will be so… Continue Reading