continued - In the second half, Nick talked about Wiltshire’s Wildlife Riches. He believes that we live in a great county for wildlife, some of which can only be found in Wiltshire.
He started in his garden where he wanders around when taking a break from his work and takes images of a wide range of insects. He said that he tends to use a macro lens in natural daylight for these shots. He showed us pictures of hoverflies, mining bees in Spring and Ivy Bees, which he said are becoming more common, in Autumn. He has captured many insects which are nationally rare, such as a Box Bug. Using camera traps, he has also shot badgers, Roe Deer and foxes using his garden as a dining area.
In a neighbour’s garden, he used a vast array of equipment to document how people can help hedgehogs. He had several heartwarming images of hedgehogs at feeding stations, water bowls and in hedgehog homes. He directed us to hedgehogstreet.org for more information.
Nick talked about the chalk grasslands in Wiltshire for wild flowers and butterflies. His favourite was Wadswick Common where he took a group from the club in the summer. He talked about lowland grass meadows, such as Clattinger Farm, for fritillaries, orchids and meadow flowers, and ancient woodland such a s Savernake Forest for butterflies and insects.
Nick touched on the Great Bustard re-introduction on Salisbury Plain, started in 2004 but taking 9 years to start becoming really successful. There are now about 70 birds on Salisbury Plain and 2-3 chicks are fledging each year.
Nick has spent a considerable time photographing swifts, particularly in Lacock. Because they fly so fast, second only to stooping birds of prey such as peregrines, he suggested the need for a fast focus camera with a drive speed of 10fps, a super-zoom lens with a fast shutter speed and auto ISO. He has learnt that there is a predictability to their flight around nest sites where the birds seem to communicate with each other. After trying several different angles, he was able to take superb images of swifts returning to the nest with full crops of food.
Nick has also been involved with the Wiltshire Bat Group during hibernation and swarming surveys. He told us of the joys of pot-holing to reach the caves in disused quarries where he managed to capture a range of interesting images of Greater and Lesser Horseshoe Bats amongst others.
After a brief question and answer session our chairman thanked Nick for a wide ranging and fascinating talk giving us a detailed insight into the processes of rewilding projects, illustrated with a brilliant set of images. He remarked on Nick’s enthusiasm and dedication, not say obsession, with his subject matter and looked forward to welcoming him back to the club again in the future.DF
Images © Nick Upton from top - Great Bustard - Bee in the Garden - Swift