Best of Britain 2013

05th January 2014
Happy New Years to you all, and may it be a year full of happiness and new and exciting adventures.

I have now been in the UK shortly over a year, and as such am just beginning to explore the different wildlife we are exposed to here. My work on this is just a drop in the ocean, but after a year I am able to share a small selection of work with you. I am very excited for 2014, and all the trips I have planned this year, exploring the moors, coasts and islands of this somewhat waterlogged country!

It has been a year of firsts for me- my first ever Otter, my first time experiencing snow where I actually live, my first red squirrel, and the first time I've lain in the freezing ocean just hoping to catch a glimpse of an otter! I have travelled to Svalbard again, as well as in my much loved South Africa, but I will only be sharing 10 of the best UK images I have captured this year. I hope that you enjoy the selection of wildlife this country has afforded me...

'Snowy Stags'
Red Deer, Richmond Park, London

I have long looked at the images of other UK photographers, and marvelled at the grace and beauty of the Red Deer presented. To finally capture these myself was of great excitement, especially during some fairly rare snow in the middle of London!

'Puffin in Motion'
Atlantic Puffin, Skomer Island, Wales

This magical destination is one I plan on visiting frequently during 2014! This puffin was approaching his burrow, and I used a slow shutter speed to capture the beats of his wings as he flew.

'Tuft-eared beauty'
Red Squirrel, Cairngorm National Park, Scottish Highlands

If ever there was an endearing creature, it was this. In winter they grow ear tuffs, and their red coats and bushy tails shine in the cold weather in the old forests in Scotland. Although Reds have been pushed out of a lot of their range by the non-native Grey squirrels, in Scotland they are doing well and provide ample photographic opportunities.

'Just a Little Kiss'
Little Owls, Farm in rural England

Photographing this mother Little Owl and her chick, as the chick learnt to feed itself was a great moment for me. It was too endearing to watch, especially considering my fondness for the Owl family!

'Painted mudflats'

One of the first trips I did was unto Snettisham to photograph the waders on the Norfolk mudflats. This sunset however stole the show. It was the middle of winter, and the stormy sky was lit up by some magic colours, reflected in the streaks of water on the mudflats.

'Roaring Dawn'
Red Deer Stag, Richmond Park, London

When October finally arrived, I was very excited as it meant the beginning of my first 'deer rut' season in the UK. In a feat of bad timing I had also booked to return to SA to visit my family and spend some time in the bush! I only had a few short opportunities at Richmond, but came away with some shots that not only made me happy, but also excited for the potential of next year October, where I will stay firmly put in London! This beautiful stag was roaring in a small forested area of Richmond, as shafts of light filtered through the forest creating the perfect back drop for the image. I was very excited to get home and check them out that evening!

'Pineforest Dweller'
Crested Tit, Cairngorms, Scotland

The Crested Tit is one of the inhabitants of the pine forest in Scotland, and are very easily identified by the beautiful crest on their heads, as well as their slightly aggressive nature. When that crest is backlit against the pine trees of the forest, any image becomes that much more striking. This is another subject I am sure I will spend more time chasing over the coming year- he is certainly worth it!

'Red Squirrel against pines'
Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

Yes, this little beauty was bound to come up in more than one image! An image I really wanted from my trip to Scotland for Christmas was that of a squirrel against the pine forest backdrop. It's easier said than done, as they are incredibly agile, and don't much enjoy sitting still unless busy feeding. Here the little bushy tailed beauty posed for a couple of seconds on the tree trunk, so I managed to fulfil one goal!

'Otter in Seaweed'
Argyll, Scotland

The enigmatic otter, and one of my dream subjects, finally became a reality on a trip up to the Argyll area in Scotland. They are an addictive subject, so elusive and shy, yet so interesting to watch that they really keep you coming back for more! When I shot this, I was lying in the seaweed bed, half submerged in the rising tide, completely oblivious to the slow creep of cold because I was so enraptured at my close proximity to this wonderful animal. We had worked hard for 3 days, in the icy cold and whipping winds and this moment was our reward- so very worth it! Next year I hope to return to this location, as well as to the Shetland Islands, to find myself some more otter gems...this was just enough to whet my appetite and leave me longing for more!

'The Stalker'
Red Fox, Greater London

We live in a country where one small predator certainly steals the show in terms of frequency of sightings, and ability to thrive. The Red Fox may not be loved by all, but they certainly do hold a special place in my heart. I love seeing them hurrying through the street on my way home from work, or scampering across the road in front of the car. We live with them in our neighbourhoods, and hopefully over the coming year I will get a chance to photograph my resident foxes as they go about their lives. They are beautiful, wily and intelligent animals with a sheer will to survive.

Happy 2014 all, and here's to a wonderful new year!
I hope it will be a great one for you, and for wildlife- let us find place in our hearts for them, for without nature we are nothing.

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Photo comment By Mike Rex: Hi Laura - lovely images - well done! I love getting to see your pictures because given the time anfd your skills I would be chasing after exactly the same things to photograph! All the best for 2014. Cheers, Mike
Photo comment By Ilva Snowdon: Great selection of photos Laura x
Photo comment By René du Plooy: Amazing shots Laura! Thanks for sharing them with us all!
Photo comment By Tobie Oosthuizen: Excellent work Laura, thanks for sharing
Photo comment By fiona caira: Laura your photographs are real works of art - each one tells its own story. Thank you for sharing your unique vision with us .
Photo comment By Antonio Lucio Sana: Wonderful photos! Congratulations for this great selection!

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