The widlife travel survival guide
How to...
film garden wildlife
Piers Warren, from the International School of Wildlife Film-making
(Wildeye), offers a beginner’s guide to filming the wildlife that thrives
in your garden, whether it’s birds at the feeder or fish in the pond
ith the popularity of
programmes like BBC’s
Springwatch, and the
falling cost of video equipment,
more and more people are keen
to capture the wildlife in their
garden on film. But how do you
get started?
The most obvious piece of
equipment is a digital camcorder,
and there is a huge variety
available that offers superb
high definition quality at a
range of prices. Even a
small, handheld
camcorder, costing
less than £200, can
produce excellent
images. These are
great for filming birds
feeding from a table in your
garden, butterflies and bees on
flowers or, if you’re lucky, fox
cubs playing together.
If you’re using a camcorder for
birds or other nervous animals
you can do it from inside your
house and through a window –
just watch out for reflections on
the glass. It will improve the
results if you use a tripod, or
stabilise the camera somehow.
Only hand-hold as a last resort, or
if you need to be very mobile.
Remember that many DSLR
cameras these days also have an
HD video recording capability, so
you may already have the
Here: foxes use
their ‘brush’ or tail
as a cover in cold
weather. Inset: a
large red damselfly
you need.
If you want to
film inside a nest
box, have a look at the dedicated
nest box cameras available.
These are small cameras that fix
inside the top of a nest box and
can be equipped with tiny infrared lights and a microphone to
record the nestlings’ cheeps.
These will either connect with
your TV or computer via a cable
or there are wireless options with
a transmitter and receiver. This
equipment is not as expensive as
you might think, with prices
starting from £50 – just search the
web for ‘nest box cameras’.
Another piece of equipment
that is becoming increasingly
popular is the trail-cam or camera
trap (from around £100). These
are remote units that strap to a
tree and are left to record any
creatures that pass by. They are
usually triggered by something
passing through an infra-red
beam, and are perfect for garden
foxes, badgers, hedgehogs, and
some wildlife you didn’t even
know frequented your patch!
Finally, if you have a garden
pond, there are gadgets available
for filming activity under the
water. ‘Action cams’, such as the
GoPro Hero range, often come
with underwater housings (about
£50) and can be used on the end
of a pole or placed in the pond to
record what swims by. They can
also take time-lapse sequences,
so you could record an hour’s
worth of activity and then
condense it into 30 seconds – with
fascinating results.
Whatever equipment and
techniques you use, capturing
footage of wildlife is a fun (and
addictive) way to appreciate and
learn about the creatures that
share your garden.
Wildeye provides a
number of courses to
help you develop your
filmmaking skills.
They also publish
several books, such
as Go Wild with Your
Camcorder. See
We would love to see any action recorded in your garden! Please upload your videos to our Facebook page (
wildtravelmag). Or write and tell us about it by emailing [email protected]
Survival skills
using the skies for navigating
Paul Stephenson from Ordnance Survey offers some easy
techniques to find your way by the sun, moon and stars
orking out roughly where you are is
simplest in the case of the sun. The general
rule is that it rises in the east, is highest at
midday, and sets in the west. Bear in mind, however,
that sunrise and sunset positions do vary throughout
the year. For example, in the middle of summer, the
sun rises in a more north easterly direction and sets
north west.
Meanwhile, a full moon rises in the east, is south at
midnight, and sets in the west. However, the
direction of the rising and setting of the moon is less
reliable than the sun due to the angle of the moon’s
orbit. If there’s a crescent moon, visualise a line
running from tip-to-tip of the moon’s crescent, then
continue that line down to the horizon. Where it
meets is roughly south (fig.1).
As for the stars,
Fig. 1
one of the easiest to
spot is Polaris, the
Pole Star. It’s one of
the brightest stars
in the sky and sits
over the North Pole
– meaning it’s
possible to
judge direction
The Alan Rogers
Find the perfect
camping plot by
browsing more
than 3,000
campsites across
Europe. You can
explore by
country, region or
county and each
entry comes with
reviews, campsite opening
dates and directions.
The Coleman Lantern
Fig. 2
from its location in the sky.
To find Polaris, locate the Plough (or ‘Big Dipper’)
group of seven stars. The two stars that form the
bottom of the ‘scoop’ of the Plough point straight
upwards to the Pole Star (fig. 2).
You can also approximate your latitude using
Polaris. You can estimate this by holding a fist out in
front of you, between the star and the horizon. Each
fist is equal to 10 degrees of latitude.
Of course, none of these methods should be used
in preference to a map and compass when you
need to find your way!
Sarah Buckley from Globe Travel Health Centre offers her top
tips for treating jelly fish stings
camping apps
Free, Apple
Swimmers and paddlers can be
stung by jellyfish and other
venomous creatures even in
temperate waters, but the risk is
much greater in tropical seas. It is
best to assume that any creature
encountered in the sea is
venomous and therefore treat
them all with respect. Those who
venture into the sea risk being
injured by coral or sea urchins, or
stung by fire coral, jellyfish,
venomous fish, stingrays, cone
shells and octopi.
Jellyfish stings are most
common when there are onshore
winds: this is the reason children
often get stung when playing by
the shoreline. Very few species of
jellyfish are really dangerous even
though they can inflict a painful
Four of the best…
sting. On northern
Australian coasts, where
dangerous jellyfish
cause the most trouble,
coastguards give
warnings if they have
come inshore.
Box jellyfish may be
the size of basketballs,
with three metre-long
trailing tentacles, or as
small as your thumb. If stung
by this dangerous type of jellyfish,
flooding the sting with acetic acid
(vinegar) will deactivate any
undischarged stingers, and local
lifeguards will hold stocks of antivenom. Credit cards make excellent
scrapers for removing any
remaining fragments of tentacles
from the skin. Do not try applying
alcohol, urine,
kerosene, hot
sand or
fresh water
to jellyfish
stings as
this will
cause a
discharge of
any remaining
stingers, worsen
the problem, and
could exacerbate poisoning.
Australians recommend wearing
two pairs of pantyhose (or tights),
worn like a bodysuit to create a
protective layer. This is cheap but
isn’t a great look. Though more
pricey, we recommend a stinger
suit or a diving ‘skin’ instead.
Forgotten your torch? Don’t
panic as this free app lets you
choose from 10 different
lanterns that will flood your
tent with light. You can adjust
the brightness by sliding your
finger along the on-screen bar.
Free, Apple
First aid
Accidents can happen and so if
you are planning a camping
trip where help could be a long
way off, this app, produced by
St John’s Ambulance, could be
a useful addition to your kit. It
includes the latest first aid
advice and protocols for
dealing with any emergency
situations that could arise.
Free, Android, Apple, Blackberry
Commander Compass
For those fearless types who
like to go so far off the beaten
track that traditional GPS apps
fail, then this is the app for you!
It features a military-standard
compass, gyro compass, maps,
GPS tracker, speedometer, gyro
horizon and inclinometer.
£2.60, Apple
5 minutes with...
Naturalist and cetacean superfan Philip Hoare reveals what
inspired his new book ‘The Sea Inside’ (Fourth Estate, £18.99)
Why this book?
The Sea Inside is a journey
into our collective
imagination. In my previous
book, Leviathan, I explored
the way we have thought
about, observed, assimilated,
used and abused cetaceans. I
set off on a new journey, to
investigate their world, and
that of other creatures,
especially birds, with which I
have become obsessed. In the
five years that it has taken me
to write The Sea Inside, I’ve
been lucky enough to get up
close to many creatures and I
am perpetually amazed by the
stories these species, which
all make their living on, or in,
or by the sea, have to tell us.
What has been a particular
highlight on your travels?
I was lucky that Leviathan
took me to some remarkable
places. Together with
underwater photographer,
Andrew Sutton, I
spent time with
the sperm
whales of the
Azores, whose
deep waters are
home to a dozen
species of
cetacean (and
visited by a
dozen more). I
poeticise about
whales, but I do
not apologise.
Any low points?
Only those days when the
weather conspires to defeat
your plans, and the horizon
goes all wobbly. It’s just a
reminder that for all our
arrogance, we do not hold
dominion over the sea.
How did your interest in
marine life start?
The pictures in my 1960s
Junior World Encyclopaedias
Wild Swimming
Daniel Start
(Punk Publishing,
Naturalist Daniel Start
explores 150 natural
freshwater swimming
havens across Britain,
from rivers and lakes
to waterfalls and pools.
No matter where you
live in the UK there’s
likely to be somewhere
relatively close at hand that’s perfect for a
swim, paddle or waterside picnic.
The Secret
World of Red
T. Delene Beeland
(University of North
Carolina Press,
This is the story of
North America’s rare
and shy red wolf, of
which there are only
100 left in the wild
and 200 in captivity. It examines the
species’ history and follows the US Fish and
Wildlife Service’s Red Wolf Recovery
Program to restore them to the wild.
introduced me to
the denizens of the
deep. I couldn’t
actually touch the
pages they
appeared on and
had to turn the
pages with my
fingertips; I felt that
they would draw me
down into the
How do you regard the
I’m hopeful and pessimistic in
equal proportions. Some
whale populations have
recovered, yet we still keep
cetaceans captive. We still
allow them to be culled. Worst
of all, they are threatened by
the pollution that we pump
into the oceans, maiming,
killing and deforming
cetaceans almost as a byproduct of our civilisation.
Dave Dick
In this no-holdsbarred and very
readable account,
former RSPB
senior Scottish
officer Dave Dick
lifts the lid on the realities of battling
wildlife crime on a daily basis over 25
years. The reader is left in no doubt of
Dave’s passion for his job and subject.
(Ivy Press,
Filled with
by Andrew
Perris and fascinating facts by Marianne
Taylor, this coffee table book features 36
iconic owls from all across the world. It
also provides a guide to their anatomy,
hunting prowess and evolution.
Find out how you can do your bit for
endangered wildlife and global conservation
Born Free Foundation
The charity
was started
by Virginia
McKenna, her
late husband
Bill Travers,
and their son
Will Travers in
1984 and is
devoted to
welfare, conservation and education.
The website includes a guide to Born
Free’s campaigns, ways to help and
volunteer at home and overseas, and
the latest wildlife news.
Tusk Trust
For 20 years the Tusk Trust has helped
protect around 36 endangered species,
from African wild dogs and Grevy’s
zebras to giant sable and hawksbill
turtles, by establishing community-led
initiatives across Africa. The website
includes sections on upcoming events
and projects, and ideas on how you can
get involved.
David Shepherd Wildlife
Set up by international artist David
Shepherd, this charity supports a
range of conservation and wildlife
projects in Africa and Asia.
The website
includes art for
sale by
Shepherd and
other artists,
as well as
news, new
projects and
events, and
Camping it up
We take a look at some of the latest camping kit to ensure that
every eventuality is covered for those nights under canvas
6 Suck it up
This handy straw allows you to drink water
from any source in any country, from stream
to lake, safe in the knowledge that its filters
will remove 99.99 per cent of bacteria.
7 Snug as a bug
The Ray Mears Osprey three season sleeping
bag is a bag designed by Ray Mears for use
from late spring to early autumn in the UK.
However, it can be used comfortably in
temperatures as low as -15°.
8 Space saver
Solve the problem of carrying bulky tableware
in your rucksack and pack cleverly with
Fozzils flat-pack bowls, plates and cups. These
store flat until it’s time to use them, when
they can then be easily assembled by
snapping them into place.
From £8.74,
9 Home comforts
This self-inflating mattress from Kathmandu
provides cushioning while sleeping and adds
a little luxury to your canvas home. It is also
ultra-light and easy to pack, making it handily
portable for those on the move.
From £29.99,
10 Light up
All your lighting needs in one handy camping
lantern. This Yellowstone Outdoor Camping 3in-1 lantern includes an LED Lantern, handheld torch and head torch.
1 Cook up a storm
The lightweight Fold n’ Go stove has two
adjustable burners and an integrated Piezo
ignition for quick, match-free lighting, even in
heavy wind and rain. When you have finished
you can just fold it away.
2 Pitch perfect
With a mere four-minute pitching time, no
poles, large porch space and double entry for
ease of access, this tent ticks all the boxes and
is also suitable for all terrains.
3 Dining out
If the whole family are setting off on a camping
holiday, then this portable table could make
meal times easier to handle. It is compact and
easy to carry yet very stable when opened and
seats four comfortably.
4 Water on tap
If you are planning to stay put for a while this
50 litre Gateway Water Caddy will ensure you
have water when you need it. It is easy to
manoeuvre, even when full, and comes with
filler tap, connector and pipe.
5 Sharpest tool in the box
A traditional Swiss Army knife is a must for the
serious camper and as well as blades this
Spartan Lite knife from Victorinox includes a
corkscrew, can opener, screwdrivers, wire
stripper, tweezers and an LED white light.
.c m
100,000 readers
every month
can’t be wrong!
Official website of
Visit our dedicated wildlife website for news, jobs and more
Wildlife and conservation news
100+ news articles appear every month,
focusing on the latest wildlife and
conservation news from around the globe
Wildlife watching in the UK
We list more than 1,000 places to see
wildlife in the UK. Wherever you are, we
can point you in the right direction
Wildlife jobs
A regularly updated list of incredible wildlife and
conservation jobs, and volunteering opportunities at
home and abroad
Wildlife photography
Tips to improve your images, reviews of equipment and
links to wildlife photography competitions
Wildlife and conservation events
There is always plenty going on, from festivals to lectures
and wildlife watching events. Get out there and join in!
Newly discovered species
Amazingly, new species are still found and
described all the time. Visit the website to
learn about the latest discoveries
to receive our
FREE weekly
Top news stories this month:
n The night parrot, dubbed the ‘holy grail’ of
Australian birding, has been sighted in the outback
n Three extremely rare snow leopards have been
caught on film in China
n Rhino receives pioneering skin graft to help heal
terrible poaching injuries
For the full stories go to
Here: To approach this roe deer without
alerting it I kept downwind and as low as
possible, using the high heather to hide me
Right: My floating hide in action. The wooden
support provides a solid platform for the lens,
and also allows for a low shooting angle
Below: Great crested grebes shot from the hide
Below right: To capture intimate images I often
use camouflage netting thrown over myself
Below far right: Even a bird as sensitive as a
sparrowhawk will become accustomed to a
hide if it is left in place for long enough
Part eight
field craft
ild animals are sensitive creatures
with acute, highly developed
senses. Most can detect your
presence long before you even catch a
glimpse of them, and rightly so; it is
imperative for their survival. To become a
successful wildlife photographer, you will
need to find a way of getting inside their fear
circle. Remain outside this invisible limit and
your subject will carry on its business,
unconcerned by your presence. The moment
you approach the perimeter, however, you
will likely see a marked change in behaviour.
The animal will become agitated. It will look
directly at you, and the next thing you are
likely to witness is its rapidly disappearing
rear-end! The size of this safety margin
depends greatly on the species involved and
its own individual tolerance. There are very
few wild mammals that can be photographed
successfully from outside their fear circle,
even with the most powerful telephoto lenses,
so you will need to find a way of approaching
beyond the boundary without being detected.
Stalking wildlife can be a lot of fun, but can
also be very frustrating. Imagine crawling for
200m across a thorny forest floor on your
stomach just to have your subject flee the
moment you press the shutter. It has
happened to me more times than I can
remember! There are, however, certain rules
that will greatly increase your chances.
Your first consideration should be what to
wear. Muted, subdued colours are most
effective. Browns and greens should work, but
for the most sensitive subjects I would go for
full camouflage. The cheapest place to go is
an army surplus store, but there are certain
considerations you should make before
making the purchase. How noisy is the fabric?
You will need to remain completely silent
when stalking, so avoid anything Velcro or
crinkly. Chhoose a size that is loose enough to
move around freely and under which you can
add extra layers in winter.
Before you begin the stalk, you should
make a mental plan of your approach. Look
carefully at your surroundings and note the
direction of the wind. Animals such as deer
have an incredibly sensitive sense of smell,
and the first whiff of human scent will scatter
them. With this in mind, it is also a good idea
Learning how to approach wildlife without
frightening it away is the key to creating
successful, detailed and intimate images of
the animal kingdom, writes Ben Hall
Season’s highlights - AUGUST
Late summer is a difficult
time of year for wildlife
photography. Foliage
thickens, blocking out
much needed light, and
most bird and mammal
species become both
secretive and elusive.
There are, however, two
August events that I
always look forward to.
By the beginning of
August, red deer hinds will
have given birth to their
young. Opportunities to
capture intimate images of
mothers and calves are
aplenty throughout the
month. There are lots of
deer parks in the UK,
some of which keep both
fallow and red deer: the
perfect environment to
hone your stalking skills.
Later on in August,
heather starts to bloom,
transforming moorland
landscapes into a sea of
pink. This onslaught of
colour offers opportunities
to capture moorland
dwelling birds such as red
to avoid washing your stalking outfit. The
dirtier and more worn it gets, the more
undetectable it will become!
Always approach your quarry from
downwind or your stalk will be over before it
began. Also keep your profile below the
horizon. Move as slowly as possible and
watch closely for any visible signs of unease. If
the animal looks directly at you, freeze until it
looks away. Look for natural cover to conceal
yourself and stick to areas of dense foliage
such as trees or hedgerows.
For camera stability, opt for a beanbag or a
monopod. A tripod is far too cumbersome and
likely to prevent you from firing a shot at the
optimum moment. Beanbags are useful for
small mammals like rabbits and hares but, for
larger subjects, a monopod is a compromise
between stability and ease of use.
The best time of day to go out stalking is at
dawn when most animals are preoccupied
with feeding. If you can be in position before
the sun rises, you will stand a much better
chance of success.
Travel as light as possible. You will often
find yourself walking much further than
anticipated, so arm yourself with just one lens
and camera body. A zoom in the range of
100-400mm will work wonders in a stalking
grouse and wheatear
against vivid pink and
purple hues.
When composing your
images, pay careful
attention to your
background and eliminate
distractions by using a
wide aperture. A low
shooting angle can
produce a diffuse
foreground, adding depth
and intimacy. Moving a few
feet in either direction can
also have a dramatic
effect on your image.
situation and you will be able to react quickly
with no heavy lens weighing you down.
Another effective way of getting close to
your subject is by using a hide. Whether you
decide to purchase a hide, or build one
yourself, the most important consideration is
deciding on a suitable location. Hides are
most productive in an area you know the
subject will keep returning to: a feeding
station, adjacent to a pond or lake, or a known
roost site or display ground.
It can be erected well in advance and left in
place for your intended quarry to get
accustomed to it. With the necessary
permissions, I prefer to site my hides on
private land as it greatly reduces the risk of it
being vandalised or stolen. Farms are ideal as
they attract a wealth of wildlife such as foxes,
hares, badgers and a variety of birds, all of
which make excellent candidates for hide
photography. When placing your hide, make
sure it is well concealed within the landscape.
Hedgerows and other convenient foliage can
be used to break up its outline; this will help it
to become accepted as part of the landscape.
A hide doesn’t have to be used on land,
however. About ten years ago I built a floating
hide to photograph a pair of great crested
grebes on a local lake. It proved a huge
success. As well as completely concealing
your presence, the beauty of the floating hide
is that you can shoot from a variety of
positions, giving yourself more options for
backgrounds and lighting angles. Mine is
simply designed, with three planks of wood
screwed together to form a U-shape. I
attached large polystyrene blocks to the
underside for floatation, and used two plastic
pipes that stretch from corner to corner to act
as a frame which supports a camouflage
canopy. Once appropriately dressed in
waders and thermals, I can then wade into the
water up to chest height with the lens resting
on a beanbag. A floating hide allows you to
rest the lens just a few inches off the surface of
the water, giving a much more intimate view
of your subject.
Ask the experts
Our team of experts tackle questions on
altitude sickness, the Duke of Edinburgh
awards, and taking your dog abroad
My 14 year-old son is about
to start his Duke of
Edinburgh awards. Is there any
way he can incorporate his love
of wildlife into the awards?
The beauty of DofE is that it is a
unique programme of personal
development, encouraging young
people to pursue their own
interests, develop life skills and
uncover new talents. In essence,
your son can mould his DofE
experience to suit him.
There are four sections at bronze and
silver level; physical, volunteering, skills
and expedition, and a wildlife theme could
be incorporated into the majority of these.
For example, he could set a wildlife
photography aim for his expedition;
volunteer for a conservation charity or take
on hill walking for the physical section; or
learn to breed or study a wildlife species
for his skill. The opportunities really are
endless and, as long as his chosen
activities meet the DofE criteria and
provide a progressive challenge, he can
I am going on a wildlife holiday to
Nepal and it includes a trek at
altitude through the Everest National
Park. How can I avoid coming down
with altitude sickness?
There are important things that you need to
know to prevent illness. There is less
atmospheric pressure as one goes higher,
resulting in less oxygen available to the body.
The body adapts to these lower levels by
increasing the rate and depth of breathing
and increasing heart rate. Some people adapt
much better than others. Serious altitude
illness is rare below 3,000m.
Lack of oxygen causes fluid leakage and
accumulation in between cells in the brain
and/or the lungs. Mild or early symptoms are
headache, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue,
lack of sleep and dizziness, rather like a bad
hangover. These symptoms might be
choose absolutely
anything he’d like. DofE
programmes do need to
be balanced and not
totally focused on one
activity, so think
creatively about how to
undertake different
activities over which an
interest in wildlife can
easily be laid.
At gold level there is an
extra section, the
residential, which
requires a young person to spend five days
and four nights living and working away
from home. This could provide him with the
opportunity to really get stuck into wildlife
and spend a week doing anything from
monitoring coral bleaching in Australia to
bat populations in the New Forest.
Alex Davies is the national
programme and quality
manager at the Duke of
Edinburgh’s Award (DofE).
resolved by spending one or two nights at
the same altitude; if symptoms worsen,
descent is required. Serious symptoms like
shortness of breath at rest, extreme fatigue,
mental confusion or ataxia (loss of
coordination), require immediate descent to
lower altitudes.
Altitude illness is preventable. It is
recommended not to climb more than 300500m a day above an altitude of 3,000m. It
also helps to ‘climb high and sleep low’.
Preventive medication like acetazolamide
can be used for abrupt, unavoidable ascents
to altitude in excess of 3000m or if you know
that you are susceptible.
Dr Prativa Pandey is the
medical director at CIWEC
Clinic Travel Medicine Center
in Kathmandu, Nepal. www.
forget to upload
your wildlife images
and videos to our Facebook
page as we would love
to see them!
I would really like to take my dog
abroad when I visit Europe later on in
the year. What do I need to know?
Going on holiday abroad without your dog
can be no fun at all but by planning ahead
they can accompany you on trips throughout
Europe. The Pet Travel scheme (PETS)
permits the re-entry of animals to the UK
without a quarantine period, and this has
revolutionised taking pets
abroad. Quarantine was an
efficient barrier not only to
rabies, but also other
exotic diseases that are
absent from the UK.
British pets will not have
met these diseases
before and are likely to be
highly susceptible.
The Animal Welfare Foundation
has published a leaflet on its website which
provides the details you need to prepare your
dog for a trip overseas. It also provides a
summary of the diseases to which it could be
exposed, recommending ways to avoid
infection (see
In brief, to travel from the UK into other
parts of the EU, pets must be:
• microchipped
• have a pet passport
• vaccinated against rabies
• blood tested to prove they have responded
to the vaccination
• have received tapeworm treatment (a vet
needs to see this administered)
• beyond 21 days from the date of the rabies
vaccination before travelling.
The detailed rules for travelling abroad with
your pet are constantly evolving so check the
government (PETS) website for the latest
advice (see
Helen Beioley is
development officer for
the British Veterinary
Got a wildlife or travel question you want our team to answer? Email [email protected]