Sunflower prairie dog

Everyone knows that sunflower seeds are good for you, but nobody had told the young prairie dogs. There were plenty of the little critturs at this location, but even on this research plot they were heavily predated and occasionally shot, so getting close to them was never easy. The heat haze was something to contend with, but patience usually pays off.

Skomer puffins – Alan Titchmarsh

Skomer is one of the best places on earth to be when the puffins are around. Enough said.

Sharp-ribbed salamander

Very often filming wildlife is a matter of going out to get a specific aspect of behaviour. In this instance we had a sort of short story and consequently came up with a storyboard. No prizes for guessing that most of the shots weren't achievable, but with a mixture of shots from the location itself and matching shots from our nearby studio I think we came up with something pretty near the original idea.

Red squirrel

Getting a tricky aspect of animal behaviour in the can is one of those 'high five' moments. In this sequence it was the shots of the red squirrel gathering bedding that were the most pleasing. Previous to this I has only seen this behaviour once in the reds, and at distance. Even then the animal was far too jumpy to get near. I have never seen red squirrels gathering drey material like this since... but then again, I haven't tried to.



There is a selection of 'filmed in the wild' and sets here. Of course, the nightingale was filmed in the wild, and this individual wasn't bothered by me being quite close by under a lump of camouflage netting. The tree frogs were filmed at night with a simple torch (not of a million candles... or even one at times). The midwife toad, fire salamander and spadefoot toad were all filmed in sets made on location.

India’s Otter Paradise

This sequence is from a Nat Geo series called Hidden Worlds. We spent a lot of time in Corbett National Park, a tremendous tract of wild India. We came across the smooth coated otters during the course of everyday filming, but there were remarkably few records of their occurrence in the park. They became central to the programme, and later the shots of the otters taunting the crocodile were used in the BBC's Planet Earth series.

Filming from towers

There are several things that I have learned about filming from towers - I've done a lot of it. You're most likely to have an accident when the tower is still very low... I imagine it has something to do with complacency. Towers always bring surprises: animal life doesn't expect to see people hanging around at height. Goshawk, crossbill and merlin feature here, but by far my favourite tower shots have been of the diminutive goldcrest feeding.

Crossbills drinking

There is a lot of forestry not far from where I live. One year common crossbills were present in good numbers. Unusually for Wales it was quite a dry spring, and although the crossbills were drinking regularly they were doing so in shady inaccessible spots. In the end we resorted to putting water back into the dried up puddles. The crossbills were very obliging (though a touch nervous) and from the cover of a pile of timber I got these shots.

Bat cave in Portugal

It always makes me laugh thinking about this filming scenario: whispered communications between me and the rest of the team, huge piles of stirred up bat dung, and a portable film light that had no concept of 'the long life battery'. As is usually the case, we got there in the end, and no bats were harmed etc etc.

More Video Clips

There are some more clips on the left/above. Navigate using the list on the very left. These clips probably represent a history of originating and archival formats over the last couple of decades, but when all you have left is a sad VHS then a sad VHS just has to do. It's the content that's important isn't it?

Wildlife cameramen do have a bit of a reputation for being kit geeks. It's good to keep abreast of the latest equipment, but if you want to send the rest of the crew to sleep just start talking about it... works every time.

Sometimes the simplest behaviour and the most common species return the most cherished memories, and they are often the most challenging for a wildlife cameraman.