I have been asked to put together my top 5 Autumnwatch 2016 highlights and with so many incredible moments experienced it has been very hard to select just five. No doubt, others would have included an afternoon spent searching for some of the 300 different species of spiders that live at Arne, searching for striking and spectacular fungi such as fly agaric and porcelain fungus, and having the pleasure of meeting the faces of Autumnwatch, Martin, Michaela & Chris. But with much deliberation here are those moments I felt couldn’t be overlooked…
#5 – The perfect Sika deer shot
I took hundreds of photos of the Sika deer but this was an image that I’d always had in mind, one I’ve always wanted to create. I think sunrise is one of the best times of the day for photography and I had already got a good selection of images with the sun lighting the deer, but here the sun was rising in front of me. This young stag, or “pricket”, was showing a slight interest in me which enabled me to slowly move into position with the sunrise directly behind it.
#4 – Little egret and everything falling into place
On my list of things to try and photograph were birds or insects that are slowly making the UK their home due to potential issues such as global warming. The little egret were certainly the easiest to photograph. This one was a photographer’s dream. The light was right, the bird was very close and it was stalking and chasing the fish for a good 15 minutes.
#3 – Photographing Mangalitsa, or “Woolly”, Pigs
These are great creatures, incredibly friendly and photogenic. During Autumnwatch 2016 Martin Hughes-Games explained how these pigs were helping the RSPB manage the land.
#2 – Dartford Warbler and a unique perspective
October is a great time to photograph these amazing birds, there are plenty about as the seasons young birds are still around alongside the adults, who are now looking great with their winter plumage. This image is different from the classic shot of the bird on top of a gorse bush, but it’s certainly my favourite because of its uniqueness. The bird just appeared and sat in the bracken within a few meters of me, lovely to see so close.
#1 – Working with the RSPB and the BBC
This was the first time that I had worked with both the RSPB and BBC, and I certainly had a memorable time working with both teams. Having the opportunity to access special restricted areas of the reserve in order to photograph wildlife, observing the remote cameras and sound equipment being setup by the BBC crew, and being shown how the program was constructed from the ground up ensured it to be a brilliant experience.
The combined knowledge and passion for wildlife was incredible and infectious. No photograph better shows this, the about to air programme being the culmination of everyone’s hard work, dedication and effort. I was extremely lucky to be inside the BBC gallery to watch the final live show being broadcast and seeing first hand this amalgamation of effort and passion was the icing on the cake.