Between the Tides – Photographing Waders.

 It is the first afternoon of 2016 and I'm standing in the tidal zone of a very beautiful place - Boundary Bay, which sits on the border between Canada and the United States on the north western coastline of North America. The bay  extends into both countries - geology doesn't care about our version of the World - or it didn't the other evening when a magnitude 4.2 earth tremour spilled piles of books and pictures across my home office floor. There is something very special about the tidal zone, it is one of only a few natural environments that…

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Into the Woods – Wildlife Photography as a Surrealist Nightmare.

In Search of the Varied Thrush. The varied thrush is not a rare bird where I live on the Lower Mainland. B.C.. Usually it overwinters in lowland forest and scrubland, but with ever increasing urbanisation many of its natural habitats are disappearing. Worldwide, woodland birds are under pressure as our numbers continue to rise and many natural areas are given over to agriculture, industry and housing. Once, when a student, I went for a jog in Central London. Setting out from my hall of residence in South Kensington at 5.00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon I ran diagonally across Hyde…

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Hawaii: Green Sea Turtles – a glimpse of life at the edge of the oceans.

As a child I was fascinated by a sea turtle's shell that stood in the fireplace of my grandparents house during the summer months of the year to hide a coal-dusted grate. I was small back then, and it seemed so big. Then, when I went to school I learned more: sea turtles were often eaten by people in tropical coastal regions, and their subsistence lifestyles could be improved by selling turtle shells to travellers as tangible reminders of visits to exotic places. My grandfather had been at sea for much of his life, which explained how one turtle carapace found…

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HAWAII: Haleakala – Flowers Above the Clouds.

On 6th February 1982 I made my first trip to Haleakala - The Sacred House of the Sun - a dormant volcano on the beautiful island of Maui. This might sound like a grand adventure, but anybody can do it - all that is necessary is a reliable vehicle and a head for heights, because the journey from sea level to 'almost' the top, can be achieved by road within a couple of hours; this may well be the fastest land ascent to 10,000 feet anywhere in the world. Only two things will catch a traveller out, the first is…

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HAWAII: JUST ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE. PART 2 – INVASIVE SPECIES.

On my first visit to Hawaii I saw a bumper sticker that I found amusing, because clearly there are no bad days in Hawaii. Every day on a tropical island seems pretty much the same to an outsider;  barring the occasional storm, pleasant weather and spectacular light are the order of the day, but maybe there are more problems in paradise than most of us realise, although suggesting a luggage sticker has been designed with irony in mind might be stretching it a bit. There are odd little things you notice. You might for example begin to wonder what's going…

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HAWAII: JUST ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE. PART 1 – IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT.

On a recent visit to Hawaii, I hardly saw any native wildlife, a stark reminder that things haven't improved since I first came to film for the B.B.C. back in the early 1980s. Thirty five years ago I made my first visit to Hawaii at a time when travelling to distant tropical islands from the U.K. was considered exotic. In those days, you'd emerge from a plane into the shimmering light and once down the gangway steps walk to the terminal building with the heat of the sun bouncing beneath your feet like a playful pet; and just as you were…

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So Long New Zealand and Thanks For All the Sheep. Part 2.

Any European botanist arriving in New Zealand for the first time might just as well be landing on a different planet - so extraordinarily is the plant life on these South Pacific islands. It took four or five years to see any positive results when trying to establish our native New Zealand garden. The one thing that grew easily was flax, and this was encouraging, because I'd seen nectar feeding birds visiting flax flowers elsewhere - so, it wasn't difficult to join up the dots... soon I was dividing and planting out as many locally grown flax as I could…

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So Long New Zealand and Thanks for All the Sheep. Part 1.

We recently said goodbye to our New Zealand House as another family moved in to what had been our home for eight years. I guess most of us like to think that our properties are special, but this one really is -  there is a conservation area that didn't exist before we arrived -  an unusual situation when a new house goes up, because most people bring in pets and refine their gardens, which more often than not, drives wildlife out. I had hoped to do exactly the opposite and bring back native species by restoring an alien environment into something altogether…

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The Not So Strange Case of the Disappearing Trees.

Many successful conservation efforts are best dealt with locally - it's easier when things happen closer to home. Commendable though it is to try and save rhinos on the other side of the planet, practical conservation works best when it's just around the corner. I have concerns over a woodland habitat that forms a major part of Fleetwood Park, in Surrey B.C. , an exceptional wildlife environment, and like many others in urban areas, really needs locals to remain vigilant. I recently wrote about tree felling in the park, because it was impossible to miss the large number of trees…

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Is Every Rotten Tree in the Forest Really Out to Get You?

The modern world has noticeably changed. We all have rights now; should a tree fall upon us somebody else will almost certainly be  responsible, and if an appropriate scapegoat can't be found we can at least expect to sue our local authority. There is very little left in the developed world for which we are responsible - becoming fat, having too many children, getting run over when jogging across a busy intersection whilst listening to a stereo system plugged into our ears; even spilling hot coffee over ourselves in a public place clearly has nothing to do with us. Read the…

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