WILDLIFE

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 MAGAZINE FRONT COVER

British Wildlife magazine is a bit of a national institution. It was first published in 1989 and has always been respected amongst naturalists for being an unassuming, informative and accessible publication that treads the line between academic journal and newsstand title. I've long been a subscriber, so it's great to see my fox image on the February cover. British Wildlife is bimonthly and the latest issue can be purchased here.

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.

SURPRISE HAWKSBILL HATCHLINGS IN SAINT LUCIA

I've just returned from Saint Lucia, after being invited back by Anse Chastanet Eco Resort for the second time. Last time I was commissioned to showcase the amazing bird life that can be found on the island, which you can read about here. This time it was more of a holiday as a thank you for the previous job and for getting features out in UK birdwatching magazines to help promote the resort and island. I took my camera just in case and I'm glad I did as there were a few surprises in store...

Firstly, I arrived to find that critically endangered HAWKSBILL TURTLES were hatching right on the Anse Chastenet beach! Meno (pictured) told me that it was the second time that week hatchlings had been emerging and that there was at least one more batch of eggs that could hatch any day. Amazing!

The next surprise was the rain. The rainy season was pretty late and when I arrived, everyone was talking about how dry it had been - but that was about to change. It bucketed down from the second day, but fortunately the rain in Saint Lucia isn't as bad as in the UK and the showers are usually pretty short during the day, and they don't stop the sun from shining. In fact it provided some nice opportunities to capture some images like this spotted sandpiper on Anse Chastenet beach, where I used backlight from the early evening sun to highlight the raindrops.

There were a couple of birds I wanted to see this time that I didn't manage to see on my first trip, and top of the list was the rufous-throated solitaire or "mountain whistler" as it is known locally. I'd heard them singing previously at Des Cartiers, but I knew that the Edmund Forest Reserve was supposed to be better and there was a good chance of seeing some Jacquots there too. We only had a few hours to walk the trails, but we saw plenty of parrots (although too distant for pictures) and Smith who was guiding was red-hot at calling the solitaires down by whistling their song.

My next big surprise was an osprey fishing in the stream at Soufriere, just outside the resort. Meno had seen it in the early morning on the way in to work, so I thought I'd chance it the next day, knowing full well that the likelihood of it still being there was pretty remote. My luck was in though and although we didn't see it catch anything, it made a few attempts and some very close fly-bys. What a bird!

On the last morning of the trip, I went to Bouton to look for parrots, and found a golden apple tree with one feeding in it just before sunrise. It left just before it was light enough for pictures, so I spent the rest of the morning waiting and hoping that they'd return. Unfortunately, my luck had run out and they didn't show, but I kept myself busy watching this grey kingbird trying to swallow these fruits that were just a little bit too big to fit down its throat. Normally they are flycatchers, and I hadn't seen them do this before - it would toss the fruit in the air and open its bill as wide as possible, hoping it would land at the right angle to swallow. It must have tried for about 20 minutes, before it finally got it down!

If you are interested in seeing or photographing the birdlife of Saint Lucia, I am currently putting together a list of contacts for future tours, so please get in touch. Massive thanks to Karolin and Nick for the invite, Jonathan, Meno and all the resort staff for making sure we had such a great time.

BBC WILDLIFE MAGAZINE - GULL FEATURE PUBLISHED

BBC Wildlife Magazine (October 2015) has just published my gull feature, which I've been working on for the past couple of years. It follows a summer of hysteria in the British media about gulls attacking people and their pets and hopefully provides a refreshingly accurate take on the situation which looks at the latest research and science and interviews experts in the field - many of which I've had the privilege to work with during the project. We published the feature early due to the media frenzy this summer, so I'm still working on the project, but these are some of my favourite pictures that either made the feature or will hopefully be published when the project is complete.

BRITISH WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS - HIGHLY COMMENDED

The winners of the British Wildlife Photography Awards have been announced this week and one of my toad images from this series received a highly commended in the urban nature category. I think it's a great time for UK wildlife photography at the moment - there are so many talented photographers (particularly the young guys) producing new and exciting work, so I was pleased to have a fun evening at the awards ceremony catching up with some of them :)

British Wildlife Photography Awards - Collection 6 with all of the winning images from 2015 is available here.

SCOTTISH NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL

I'm just back from speaking at the Scottish Nature Photography Festival about telling stories with wildlife photography. I shared some new work, including some images from my upcoming gull feature in BBC Wildlife Magazine, a few images from a gannet story I am currently working on and a few one-off images, like this red fox vixen suckling cubs that are just a week out of the den I photographed earlier in the summer. I've never seen an up close wide shot of this behaviour before and I was pretty privileged to witness such a tender and vulnerable moment. I shot this using a Pocket Wizard remote and hid my Nikon D750 inside a Peli Case to muffle the sound. I filled in the shadows with two low-powered speedlites, but the main key light is from the sun and I only shot 1 frame to minimise disturbance.

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.

WILD BRISTOL SOLO EXHIBITION AND TALK - IN ASSOCIATION WITH NATURE PICTURE LIBRARY

For the whole of June, my work will be exhibited in Bristol at the Folk House Gallery on Park Street. It's a solo exhibition themed around local Bristol wildlife and I'm donating 10% of any print sales to the Avon Wildlife Trust. There will also be a talk by myself and photographer Nick Upton on Friday 12th June, sponsored by Nature Picture Library, with all proceeds also being donated to the Avon Wildlife Trust. For more info. and tickets, please check out bit.ly/wildbristol

OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY - OPENING SHOT

Outdoor Photography Magazine has just published one of my recent Toad Migration images as their Opening Shot - an opening DPS in June issue 192, which went on sale this week. I have been watching these toads climb the same hill in Bristol for a few years, but decided that in 2015, I'd have a go at lighting them with a GL-1 tungsten hotlight to match the city lights in the background. I always enjoy trying to do something different with common subjects and had loads of fun capturing the character of this often overlooked species.

GUARDIAN INTERVIEW - WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

I was recently interviewed by the Guardian Newspaper about my photography and particularly why I choose to focus on urban wildlife. You can read the full story on the Guardian Wildlife Photographer of the Year Microsite here:

Where The Wild Things Are: Discovering Urban Wildlife With Photographer Sam Hobson

ADORAMA TV INTERVIEW

I'm a bit behind with my latest posts as I've been taking some time for paternity leave. It's been a roller coaster but tons of fun and I'm really enjoying being a dad for the first time. I've been working on some local projects in the background, so will catch up with things on here when they are published in the coming weeks. For now, here's an interview about my work that I did for Adorama TV at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Natural History Museum.

nb. The black-headed gull image at 1:34 is not mine - I was showing the interviewer some techniques after the interview and I set up the camera, but she took the picture!

OBSERVER FEATURE - WHEN ANIMALS GO WILD IN THE CITY

My urban wildlife pictures have just been used to illustrate a feature in the Observer's monthly technology, science and ideas supplement. It's great to see urban wildlife getting some decent coverage in a national newspaper with such a varied readership and it always feels good to reach new people with my work when it has the potential to spark an interest in wildlife in the city.

The feature by Adam Vaughn can be read on the Guardian / Observer site here: "When Animals Go Wild in The City"

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR BLOG CONTRIBUTION

The "Urban" category is making a comeback in the 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. To celebrate this, the organisers asked myself and two awesome wildlife photographers - Alex Badyaev and Pål Hermansen, to share our thoughts about urban wildlife. I am a big believer that wildlife should not be seen as something that exists outside of the city and that urban wildlife photography plays a big part in helping people realise that humans and wildlife must coexist. The piece can be found on the Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year site here..

 

URBAN WILDLIFE - THE QUIET SPECTACLE OF THE COMMONPLACE

ROOTS MAGAZINE FRONT COVER

Dutch nature magazine Roots has used one of my urban fox images for their February cover. Inside there is a cool feature on urban wildlife with some more of my pictures, including 2 double page spreads of the same fox and an urban peregrine falcon. I've long been a fan of Roots - it's the biggest independent wildlife and nature mag in the Netherlands and always contains great photography, so it's great to make the cover and exciting to see my local wildlife getting international attention!

BBC WILDLIFE FEB 2015 - HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH URBAN WILDLIFE

If you want to know how to photograph urban wildlife, check out the new Feb 2015 issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine. My best tips and advice about photographing UK wildlife in the city are condensed into a double page "how to" tutorial - Available today http://www.discoverwildlife.com/magazine/current-issue

NATURE'S IMAGES AWARDS 2014

The results of the 2014 Melvita Nature's Images Awards have just been announced this morning and my recently published Berlin goshawk story and one of my urban fox pictures have both been awarded. The goshawk set (12 images) was a runner-up in the Man and Nature category and my fox in the Nature in the City category. A nice way to finish off 2014 and my best year so far in the major wildlife photography competitions with a total of 21 awarded images.

You can see all of the winners and runners-up on the competition website: www.natureimagesawards.com/palmares-2014

In unrelated news, my parakeet image has been included in the Daily Mail's "Most Amazing Photographs of 2014". View the full selection here.

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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!