Having been a keen bird-watcher since becoming a member of the YOC (Young Ornithologists Club) at the age of 10, I bought my first camera in 2005 to attempt to capture images of the subjects I had been observing for years. Finding this art harder than I had imagined I joined the Royal Photographic Society in an effort to learn more and improve my photographic skills and in 2010 was proud to achieve Licentiate status with the society. However it wasn’t until I took my first macro image that my eyes were opened to an amazing world that I had never noticed being all around me. A seemingly dull black beetle was the subject until closer inspection on my computer revealed an amazingly detailed creature with ‘yellow, padded feet’.
Astounded by this discovery my interest began to diversify to all manner of ‘mini beasts’ and from then on no bug, butterfly, bee or beetle has been safe from my camera lens and a whole new world of fascination has been revealed to me. With interest piqued and a world of information at my fingertips my knowledge of the macro world began to develop to enhance the avian inhabitants I had known before and since that time I can honestly say I rarely take a walk without encountering a fascinating discovery or photographic subject.
Where will we go?
As well as its world renowned historical sites of Stonehenge and Avebury, and the stately homes and gardens of Longleat, Bowood House, and Stourhead, Wiltshire can boast an outstanding variety of wildlife habitats and a biodiversity to rival any area. It can boast over 50 nature reserves, more than 13,000 hectares of ancient woodland, extensive wetlands and 300 square miles of unimproved chalk grassland, the largest expanse in North West Europe. These diverse habitats contain 134 areas designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) providing homes for all but 12 of the UK’s butterfly species, breeding sites for many birds such as Whinchat, Stone Curlew, Nightingale, Montagu’s Harrier and the reintroduced Great Bustard, winter refuge for Short-eared Owl, Hen Harrier and many species of waterfowl and waders and a vast array of Orchid species.
As if that was not good enough reason to want to explore this amazing area, Wiltshire’s neighbouring counties of Somerset, Hampshire, Dorset and Gloucester, all within easy access, offer many more wildlife viewing opportunities and add heathland and many miles of coastal habitat on major migration routes to further enhance the range of fauna and flora to be seen.