CONSERVATION

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC COMMISSION - BIG CAT WEEK

I was recently commissioned by National Geographic to shoot a rather unusual model after dark on the streets of London...

To launch BIG CAT WEEK in the UK, Nat Geo WILD had a fully animatronic leopard built by John Nolan Studio and I had one night to photograph it in iconic London locations. The idea was inspired by Nat Geo Wild TV episode Mission Critical: Leopards at the Door. Wild leopards roam the streets of Mumbai but the people who live in the city and the leopards have found a way to coexist. There are of course occasional conflicts, but Mumbai is a great example of how people and wildlife can share urban areas - even if that wildlife is a big cat or other top predator. Read the full story here: Learning to Live with Leopards.

As it was such a complicated build, the leopard wasn't fully finished and operational until the night before the press release, so we had to work through the night to create a set of publicity images ready to go to press in the morning. Assisted by the talented Josh Perrett, we spent the night driving "Lily" all over the city, from Brick Lane, to the Gherkin and Tower Bridge. We got some pretty funny looks and had a great time watching people's reactions to seeing a life-size and incredibly realistic leopard on the streets of London. The story was picked up by a few major news outlets and with the accompanying tv programmes will hopefully help to raise awareness of the threats facing leopards and other big cats in the wild.

INTERVIEW: BBC Radio 2 - The Radio 2 Arts Show with Jonathan Ross

As mentioned in my previous post, I was recently interviewed by Jonathan Ross on BBC Radio 2 - the most popular national radio station in the UK. I was pretty excited to get the opportunity to spread the word about my wildlife photography and promote the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition to such a wide audience. You can listen to the full interview below...

MARINE LITTER STORY IN 6 PAGE AUDUBON FEATURE AND AWARDED BY IUCN

I'm super excited to see my gannet / marine litter story published across 6 pages in the winter issue of Audubon Magazine - the flagship quarterly journal of the National Audubon Society. The same series has also been awarded 3rd place in the Nature Images Awards presented by Terre Sauvage Magazine and IUCN - the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

You can read the full article online on the Audubon site here:

An Annual Rescue Mission to Free Northern Gannets Tangled in Plastic Trash

It's such an important story, which highlights the problem of plastic marine pollution, so I'm stoked to see it getting plenty of attention and exposure on both sides of the Atlantic. It's an international problem and the only real solution is education, so I'm really happy and appreciative that Audubon, Terre Sauvage and IUCN are helping to spread the word.

BRITISH WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS - 9 IMAGES AWARDED

The British Wildlife Photography Awards recently announced the 2016 winners, including nine of my pictures, which were highly commended. A set of six from my Northern Gannet series, featuring the desperate situation on Grassholm Island, where birds become entangled in marine litter was the runner up in the Documentary Series category.

I also received two highly commended in the Urban Wildlife category - a spotted flycatcher nest in an old brick wall and an unusual mistle thrush nest in a traffic light. Lastly, my image of a red fox vixen suckling young cubs in a suburban garden was awarded highly commended in the Behaviour category. A pretty good haul in total!

MARINE LITTER FEATURE IN DAILY MAIL UK AND MAIL ONLINE

I've just had a 2 page conservation story published in the Daily Mail, highlighting the problem of marine litter in the UK and how it affects our wildlife. The piece also went out on the Mail Online, which is the most read online newspaper site in the world, so it's great exposure for the story. I spent last summer working with seabird scientists, researchers and conservationists to document their work, and at the end of the summer, I visited RSPB Grassholm, which lies 8 miles off the coast of Wales and supports 10% of the global population of northern gannets. The press piece focuses on the Grassholm gannets as they are the most severely affected by marine litter in the UK - mainly due to the island's proximity to ocean currents like the Gulf Stream, which brings floating debris into the heart of the gannets' foraging zones. The birds mistake discarded fishing lines and nets for strands of kelp and seaweed, and bring them back to the island to line their nests, but unlike kelp, these man-made plastic fibres are incredibly difficult to break free from once entangled and can be a death sentence. Hopefully some positive changes will come from publishing the story in an outlet with such a wide reach. You can read the online piece here and I will be putting up a new gallery of the full project very soon. Thanks to Wildscreen Exchange for helping me tell the story.

BBC WILDLIFE MAGAZINE OPENERS WITH CHRIS PACKHAM

For the previous two months, my pictures have been used for the opening double page spread in BBC Wildlife Magazine, which is apparently unprecedented! It's a great slot, where Chris Packham discusses a UK wildlife conservation issue.

Last month it was a lesser spotted woodpecker, which I photographed in the Malvern hills in Herefordshire. Lesser spots are the UK's smallest and rarest woodpecker - now considered too rare to be monitored by national surveys. It took a colleague of mine 4 years to locate a lesser spot nest, so I was extremely privileged to be invited to photograph it. I wanted to include the context of the scruffy orchard, as without this unique habitat, these birds wouldn't survive at all in this country. Setting up a shot like this requires a lot of patience and I wouldn't recommend this type of photography without a lot of planning and research and a good awareness of animal behaviour and the laws regarding photographing birds at the nest. it's not worth potentially disturbing a rare species at a sensitive time of year for a picture and I wouldn't have attempted a shot like this without advice from experts and plenty of experience shooting more common birds in the same way.

This month, they used a hedgehog I recently shot for the Avon Wildlife Trust's My Wild City project. My Wild City is a great initiative I am strongly behind, as it's all about "creating a nature-rich city that puts wildlife right on our doorsteps, giving everyone the opportunity to experience the joy of wildlife every day".. What could be better than that?! You can find out more about the project here and if you're interested in AWT's AGM where there'll be a My Wild City showcase where I'll be talking and showing some pictures, you can find out more and book tickets here.

BBC WILDLIFE MAGAZINE - URBAN GOSHAWK FEATURE PUBLISHED

The latest issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine (January 2015) hits the shelves on Monday and I'm excited to share that it's running my Berlin goshawk story. I've been working on this for some time now and it's been a bit of a journey from my first trip out to find them at the beginning of 2013. I've met lots of people working with goshawks and raptors along the way and some have become close friends. I took Ben Hoare, the features editor of Wildlife Mag out to Berlin with me this Summer to meet some of them, so that he could find out a bit more about the project and interview the people working with and monitoring the goshawks before writing the feature. 2015 is the "year of the Goshawk" in Germany, so it's a great time for it to be published and Ben has done a great job in telling the full story. Subscribers to the mag should have their copies already, but it officially goes on sale on Monday 22nd December so please go and check it out.

You can see more of my pictures from this project on my site: www.samhobson.co.uk/urban-goshawk

A web gallery is also being featured on the BBC Discover Wildlife Site: www.discoverwildlife.com/gallery/goshawks-berlin

The behind the scenes video on the Wildlife Mag Youtube Channel is here: http://youtu.be/d2tboE0fePw

Massive thanks to Norbert, Bea, Rainer, Olly, Manuela, Lutz, Felix and all the guys who helped me get the pictures and made it so much fun and big thanks to everyone at Wildlife Mag for making it happen!