Somerset Wildlife Photography Projects

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Urban Fox project.

I have been photographing this group of urban foxes in Bristol for over 12 months; what started off as a chance encounter has become an obsession for me and has changed my feelings and attitudes towards urban foxes forever. Over this 12 month period, I have talked on BBC Radio Bristol twice, worked with Spring Watch TV show and published my first book title Bristol Safari - In Search of City's Urban Wildlife and have met people who generally care about these animals, together with people who hate them with a passion. I have even been threatened in the street for photographing these animals, which shows feelings towards are mixed at the best of times. I couldn't help but become attached to these beautiful animals which I have now watched for hundreds of hours.

Cotham in Bristol
I became hooked on these animals by a chance encounter one evening whilst walking to the pub in Cotham in Bristol June 2010. My girlfriend and I were walking at dusk with the light slowly fading when I glanced down a side street and saw an animal dart across the road. I stopped, looked again, and saw a male fox sat in the middle of the street without a care in the world. Later that night when we walked back, we kept to the same route because I was hoping the fox would still be there. I was amazed as he was almost in the same place; I edged nearer to him but he wasn't scared and was as interested in me as I was in him!

"One of the foxes I named Freddy was my
favorite; he could always be found at a certain
location and I would see him in broad daylight
going about his business of looking for food and
patrolling his territory"

The next night at dusk, I headed back with my camera gear hoping he would again be sat in the street. With the sun setting, the fox appeared again from a garden nearby. I spent three hours that evening photographing and watching his behavior and was amazed how he seemed to be at ease living in a busy urban street and that he was active both day and night.

During that night I saw two more foxes. A vixen with her cub was shyer, but still inquisitive in what I was doing within their environment. At one point during the night, the male fox sat next to me and fell asleep, an amazing experience. I must point out that these foxes did not show any aggression towards me at any stage. I respected them and let them go about their business and they respected me.

Hours turned to days, days turned to weeks and then months, and every time I went to this location I saw two families of foxes. After I while I learned their territory. One of the foxes I named Freddy was my favorite; he could always be found at a certain location and I would see him in broad daylight going about his business of looking for food and patrolling his territory.

After I had been in the same area photographing these foxes for a while, the residents of the street started talking to me and we built up a relationship. They told me how long the fox had been in the area and how he was part of the community, some people also had names for this fox too and they told me they were generally affectionate toward them. Some of the residents were very fond of the male fox I called Freddy; they respected the fact that he was wild, letting him go about his daily business without a problem. I began to feel sorry for these animals, especially with the negative stories in the media vilifying them. I had read stories of how foxes had entered homes and attacked people in different locations over the Country.

Just the other day, I was walking home and a fox popped out in front of me with a hamburger in its mouth, we stared at each other for a couple of seconds, it turned around and trotted off into the distance and disappeared into the dark. A short encounter, but for me and the many other people who see foxes on a regular basis in their urban area, it is a special moment when we come face to face with a wild animal which has adapted beautifully to living in the City.

For me and what I have experienced in my local area of Bristol, urban foxes bring much joy to many people; they are part of the community loved by some but also feared by others. Having a wild animal in your street or garden is exciting. So the next time you see an urban fox in your city or village, take the time to watch this animal and show it respect as it is wild and should not be approached. Maybe you too will fall in love with this beautiful, adaptable and resourceful animal.

Please find attached a small section of images I took over the period.

Dog fox coming in close possibly due to the sound of my motor on my camera lens.

Dog fox using resting on of his Favorited place to rest in a park in Cotham.

Building trust with this animal over many months enabled me to get really close to capturing this portrait.

Young fox making a dash across the road in late evening.

Quick yawn and back on the search for food. This fox spent a lot of time in this location.

Head down on the scent of another animal this fox stalked straight passed me on this occasions.

Extreme close up, trust and patience and luck all came together on this shoot enabling me to get an extreme close up without a camera trap, I was very pleased with this shot.

The look of a fox, trying to capture the character of this fox was a goal of mine on this project.

My, my what big teeth you have. Hiding around a corning I managed to snap this fox yawn and stretching.

The sign of mange is all to evident on this male fox as he crosses the road in cotham.

Young fox walking a busy street mack bang in the center of Bristol.

Liying on the floor in the middle of the road is not advisable, but to achieve a shot at the foxes level engages the viewer much more so I took the chance and the shot paid off.

Dog fox sat in the middle of the street one Sunday morning..

The interaction between people and foxes is a strange one from my encounters they either love or hate them. These two school children seem at ease with a large fox sharing their street with them.

Badger project Bristol.

Photographing wild badgers is very hard, similar to foxes in the countryside. It’s a lot of preparation and lucky and patience.

My first experience with badgers was luck. I was driving back from picking up my brother from a hospital in Bristol late when on the busy A38 road I saw a largish animal sat on the side of the road having a good scratch! As my car neared I soon realised it was a large badger. The only badgers I had seen before this were on TV or dead animals on the road.
I memorized where I saw this animal and headed back the next night with camera traps and slowly made my way to the wooded area right next to the busy road. Within a minute or two I saw the set complex and it was huge it could have as many as 20 to 50 entry and exciting points shattered area a large area. That morning I had done my research and purchased a book called The Natural History of Badgers (Natural History Series). This book was great it told me to look out for signs like flies hanging around the entrance to holes and spoil heaps which looked fresh.

I found two locations and set up my camera traps and disappeared before it got dark.
I planned to leave the traps for a week but I could wait so I headed back after 3 days collected the traps and headed home to review what I have photographed and filmed.

I was amazed to see 360 image and 26 clips of wildlife ranging from rabbits, Roe Deer, Mouse, Rats, and Badgers! Over the next couple of weeks, I headed back at 4 pm which would leave me 2 hours to set up and wait for the animals to appear. I don’t use a hide I never have I use the surrounding natural environment as my cover so I lie, sit or stand for long periods, waiting hopping and praying these shy animals make an appearance.

Being nocturnal animals you are always battling with light, some occasions the light would be perfect and the Badgers would make a no-show. Other times as soon as the light started to disappear they would make an entrance but by then it was too dark to capture them so I would just sit and watch.

One encounter when I was very lucky I was daydreaming and walking towards the set when I saw 3 black and white animals scurrying around in different locations, at one point I almost stood on one! I quickly lead on the floor downwind and had an amazing wildlife encounter with these beautiful animals watching and photographing them for well over an hour and at one point a badger cub almost ran over my foot! Its such a delight to see an animal like this in wild, memories which will stay with me for a lifetime.

I will be heading back soon in the winter when there is snow on the ground to try and capture these large rodents active in the snow.

Please see a small section of images below.

Badger cub peering its head out of the safety of its set in a wooded area in Somerset.

Badger runs in the wood near the badger set I have been photographing. These flattened areas of grass are caused by the Badgers continually using these highways to negotiate around the area.

Low angle in the badger run. This really shows how flattened this area is .

Adult badger peering out of set during daylight hours

Hide and seek, this badger couldn't see me but could smell so it was only a matter of time before he would disappear back down its hole.

A reverse angle of the set shot from the opposite side from the previous pictures. A tree had blown down since my last visit so the position I was photographing had to change.

Adult badger peering out of set during daylight hours

Adult badger peering out of set during daylight hours

Badger completely outside of its set. It stayed like for a couple of seconds before disappearing into the woods to forage

Badger cub peering out of set checking the coast is clear before exiting the safety of set

Camera trap project Somerset

Back in March 2012, I had stumbled upon a badger set. I wanted to find out about the set was active but didn't want to spend long hours waiting to see if the Badgers would make an appearance.

I had recently purchased a camera trap so this was the perfect opportunity to see try my new piece of equipment out. I left the camera trap outside of a badger set and on a tree in the same location facing a different location. These are some of the images.

Red Deer project.

As the evenings start to draw in and the temperature drops the red deer behavior at Ashton Court Estate changes.

The spectacular event starts around September and carries on until the end of November. I've been heading up here over the years trying to capture interesting and beautiful images. Early mornings are my Favorited time of day as a lot of mornings the ground can be covered in a beautiful blanket of mist and fog.

This project is ongoing so check checking back! I hope you enjoy the project and you head up there at dawn yourself soon.


Frogs and toads project.

This is still an ongoing project on frogs and toads as I still have many more images I would like to collect. I’m fascinated in the early stages of life with frogs and toads from tadpoles to small frogs/toads. To achieve these images at one point was snorkeling in a large pond in the Mendips with an underwater camera but I really wanted to show the frantic early life in tadpole stage.

Next this the amazing transformation from tadpole to small toad/frog stage this is the area in this animals life which most fascinates me. I hope you like the images and I’m already looking forward to next spring when I can put my snorkel back on and wade out into ponds and lakes in Somerset.

Toads spawning

As spring approached this year I started to plan my latest wildlife project. Throughout winter I started to research on frogs and toads spawning, where it would happen what time of the year and what the conditions had to be for these amphibians to spawn.
I invested in a fish tank which I brought on gumtree for £10 and a small compact camera. The fish tank was to house my Canon 5d Mr 11 as I cant afford these mega expensive houses for SLR’s. How the fish tank works if you push the lens of the camera right unto the glass fish tank side and submerge the tank underwater and you can take pictures. Its extremely difficult to use but you can achieve some really interesting images. And the compact was brought again online second hand so I could hopefully get some under macro shots of frogs and toads and hopefully catch them spawning.

The beginning of the project was dogged with lots of bad luck. Bad weather and I was driving all over Somerset on my weekends trying to capture the moment the frogs would gather to wait for a mate. Each weekend I would venture out in February and I was too early and I would head home cold and empty-handed. Then one day I logged onto Facebook and saw a friend had been photographing frogs spawning at a location in Portishead. As I was working I couldn't get the time off work so I had to wait until the weekend. By the time I arrived on the weekend I had missed all the action the frogs had gone to cover and all that was left the frogspawn. I captured the spawn with my fish tank shots and my compact camera and spent a couple of hours knee deep in a freezing cold pond in Portishead.

The shot turned out great showing the spawn but I had missed the spawning so my only chance now was to capture toads spawning as they usually spawn slightly later than toads.
I waited and waited to capture some average shots at Brandon Hill nature reserve and I had a tip-off from a contact at Avon Wildlife trust that the toads were gathering in large number in a pond on the outskirts of Bristol.

I headed down on Saturday morning and to my amazement the toads were there in great number! I spend the rest of that morning shooting the toads from above and below the water capturing some really interesting images. I headed back the next day in the afternoon as the light would have been different to capture some more shots. Again a spend a few hours photographing these toads they began to spawn. I used many different techniques to capture these images and by the of the session I was cold wet and Hungary but I captured just the shots I planned through out the winter.

Below is a small section of these images I hope you like them.

Migration on a miniature scale