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British Wildlife Photography Awards

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BWPA 2013 Highly commended Entrant, Cain Scrimgeour, on his British Photography Experiences
by Cain Scrimgeour
26 February 2014

My name is Cain Scrimgeour I’m a naturalist, wildlife photographer and filmmaker from the North-East of England. Since an early age the natural world has had me hooked. Born and raised in the suburbs of North Tyneside, Newcastle Upon Tyne’s ‘green belt’ was only a stones throw away from my home. My passion developed in the areas of land which were left around the housing estates, wastelands as some people may call them, wildernesses to me.

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In 2004 I discovered Holywell Pond, a local Northumberland Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve, it was here that I had the spark, that moment in the natural world, where an interest becomes a passion, and a life. My spark came in the form of a Great Crested Grebe sitting on its nest, how could something so wonderfully different be so close to my home, what else was out there?

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Supported and encouraged by my family I began visiting as often as I could, noting what I had seen on each visit. One morning I met Eric Galloway, a local birdwatcher, he set me in the right direction, teaching me the art of birdwatching, further reinforcing that spark which had just been lit. Holywell became my second home.

It wasn’t long before photography began taking a foothold in my passion, firstly with an Olympus 35mm, then to a Canon EOS 350D. The introduction of photography inspired the construction of a website, a place to record my sightings and images on a regular basis.

Since then my knowledge has considerably broadened both of the natural world and of the skills needed to photograph and film its wonders. Whilst studying BA (Hons) Wildlife and Media at the University of Cumbria, I began to produce films on a voluntary basis to gain experience in the industry. Last year I was extremely pleased to have two entries Highly Commended in the British Wildlife Photography Awards, ‘RSPB Troup Head’ and ‘Autumn’.

In June of 2012 I visited RSPB Troup Head, in order to produce a promotional film for the RSPB. A week was spent filming on the high sea cliffs of the reserve, where I was privileged to be in the presence of the beautiful and prehistoric Northern Gannet, Morus bassanus. The close proximity I shared, allowed me to delve into the Gannets lives, witnessing the complexity of their behavioural traits.

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During the week the weather was, by majority, hot and sunny with flat seas, this proved to be challenging in terms of exposure and haze whilst filming these large white birds, but it also meant that the majority of the Gannets kept to the cliff edges, never venturing above the cliff tops. Only two days did I experience wind, which provided some interesting photography and filming opportunities. The waves picked up, and began crashing into the base of the rocky cliffs, whilst the winds updrafts allowed the Gannets to gain height, congregating at the uppermost parts of the cliff face, gliding effortlessly above the horizon.

RSPB Troup Head from BWPAwards

‘Autumn’ was a project much closer to home, and closer to my heart. Produced for the Natural History Society of Northumbria, it tells the story of Autumn at their Gosforth Park Nature Reserve.

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Gosforth Park lies in Newcastle’s Western Green Belt, only 3 miles from the City Centre itself. I will never forget the feeling of my first visit, as it’s the same feeling which captivates me every time I pass through its gates. Parking in the lay-by you get out your car to find an industrial estate across the road, the Findus factory standing proud, distributing its scent into the air, a large fence hides the reserve to your right. A small picket fence, and a roped gate, with a sign reading ‘Private Nature Reserve’ welcomes you. The wardens quaint little gate cottage intrigues you as walk in, and then you find yourself in it, a stunning melody of mature Oak, Birch, Ash, Scots Pine, Hazel, Sycamore, Beech and a wealth of ground flora, the most stunning woodland you could imagine, in the most wonderfully unexpected place. But it doesn’t end their, the woodland is alive, Jay, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Tree Creeper, Stock Dove, greet you in the canopies, Badgers, Foxes and even Red Squirrels leave their mark, buts it’s the keeper of the woods, the Roe Deer that is the most surprising.

I wanted to capture imagery of the Roe Deer in their woodland home, they are the essence of the reserve, so I spent seven mornings waiting in a hide at one of their main track junctions, where they travelled from the nearby fields from a nights feeding, back into the reserve. I’ve spent many hours filming wildlife from hides, but this was the first time I had filmed Roe Deer, a challenge was to be expected.

Six Roe Deer past my hide every morning, although their behaviour varied with the weather, if the wind was up they would move through quickly not stopping to feed, but when there was little or no wind they happily fed on the bracken in front of my hide at times coming unbelievably close. Getting close to these animals, in their own home, the place they know where every tree stands, where every tack leads, where their own sense are perfectly in tune, is an unbelievable privilege, not because they’ve accepted you, but because you’ve managed to traverse their home as part of the wood, as an object of the natural world, not as a man.

Autumn in Gosforth Park from BWPAwards

Visit Cain's Wildlife-film.com Profile Page or his website: www.cainscrimgeour.co.uk

The BWPA competition is open until 3rd May. See: 'Call for Entries' feature!

View all the winning Images, video and selection of highly commended entries here: www.bwpawards.co.uk

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Maggie Gowan
British Wildlife Photography Awards
Email: mail@maggiegowan.co.uk
Website: www.bwpawards.co.uk

The British Wildlife Photography Awards: Collection 4 showcases the very best entries from the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2013. This stunning coffee table book is a celebration of British wildlife as captured on camera by today’s best amateur and professional photographers. The book is available here: www.amazon.co.uk

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