The stories and techniques behind my favourite nature photos from this past year.
1. Chilean Flamingo (captive), WWT Slimbridge, Bristol
The hope of photographing wild cranes in courtship was what drew me to visit WWT Slimbridge one winter's evening, but it was the captive Chilean Flamingos which caught my eye. The peachy colour of this sunset nicely complemented the flamingo's plumage, but getting both in frame took a lot of work. Only a tiny portion of the sky was this colour, whilst the rest was a dark blue, and the flamingo was more often than not against the shadowy blue background. When it stopped to preen, looking down the lens with an intense white eye, that was the moment to take the picture.
2. Red Fox, London Blink, the fox in this photo, has been my life for most of the summertime. Blink has put up with my presence on his road territory every morning for two months, whilst I film my interactive documentary "iFox" about the choices that urban foxes make to survive.
3. Red Deer, Bristol
This is a shot that I've wanted to do for ages. Nothing says drama like good backlighting, and this is where my experience in photographing theatre came unexpectedly in handy. I braved the worst of "Storm Imogen" to photograph the red deer at the local deer park. This shot was captured during a rare burst of sunshine, with the trees providing a dark background to my backlit shot.
4. Ring-Necked Parakeet, London
Before heading to France for the weekend with my friend Adam, we paid a visit to my local park in South London to photograph the resident birds. This parakeet, a frequent sight in the park, was rearing a chick in this old woodpecker nest-hole. It was fun trying to catch her as she poked her head out.
5. European Brown Bear, Slovenia
This big mum bear visited our hide on two evenings. The first evening had been really poor for photography with very low overcast light, so most of my photos were write-offs. On the 2nd evening, rainstorms throughout the afternoon resulted in a clear sunset. Golden sunlight slit through the forest like stage lighting, creating pools of light and shadow for the bear to walk through. Getting this photo was a matter of waiting until the bear was in the right position and looking off, her muzzle and eye touched by the rays and her cheek receding into darkness.
6. White Storks, Normandy
During a brief but wonderful wildlife trip to Normandy, I photographed the courtship of one of my favourite birds, the White Stork.The Marquenterre reserve, near Calais, is one of the best places to see storks, with over 40 pairs nesting high up in the pine forest. Storks are faithful partners, living together for as long as 30 years, and re-using the same nest year after year. They are also very affectionate, greeting each-other by clacking their beaks together. I like this wide-angle shot of the mating, showing the birds in their pine forest environment.
7. Alpine Salamander, Slovenia
For such a small country, Slovenia has a remarkable variety of animals, especially when it comes to reptiles and amphibians. Sharing borders with four countries, its diverse landscapes offer a home to some of the continent's rarest species. Whilst one of the most sought-after is the Olm, a strange cave-dwelling salamander, I was ecstatic to find this alpine salamander after several hours of searching the karst forests. Looking like a glistening miniature crocodile, I wanted to photograph this in its piny homeland.
8. Red Deer, Bristol
At the end of a very intense rut, the loser walks with his head hung low away from the almighty victor. Shooting into the sun, my camera struggled to get detail, and in the end I opted for a very minimalist silhouette shot where the empty space and framing would best reflect the post-fight mood.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!