As it's Wildlife Month, we've sat down with the prolific wildlife photographer and animal advocate behind Punk Wildlife, to find out what drew him to photographing wildlife and how anyone can reconnect with nature and experience wild animals on their doorstep. Have a read!

You've been an animal advocate for a long time, what drew you to this cause?

I got involved with fighting for animals in my mid-teens. There was a number of reasons at the time, that made me take the plunge into the world of activism, but mainly animal testing lab exposes. Sadly the struggle never ends, but we have to do what we can with the time we have to make a change for the future. I want to be able to reach an old age and actually know I did something to help the plight of animals. 

What first got you into taking photos of wildlife?

At the time, I was living in a city which was heavily populated with wildlife and I would always spot things and wish I had something better than my phone to remember them by. I invested in a second hand DSLR camera and once I did, I was hooked. For me though, being out in nature is almost more satisfying than creating a nice photo - this has had such a positive impact on me and I cannot recommend it enough. 

Which is your favourite animal to watch?

That’s a hard one! I could give a different answer every time I think about it. I am particularly fond of watching raptors. I don’t think there’s many birds that can compete with a kestrel hunting in the wind. An absolute spectacle. When not looking at the skies, I find foxes fascinating to watch. As a species they are so misunderstood and have such amazing personalities. I am always on the lookout for fox locations to try and photograph them. 

For many, visiting a zoo is the main way they get close to 'wild' animals. How easy is it to discover and watch wildlife close to home?

As I write this, I am looking out my window at bird feeders that attract a whole range of different wildlife. I didn’t even have to go out into the cold! That’s how easy it is. My favourite visitors to the garden so far have been a female sparrowhawk, a pair of ravens and a fluffy red fox basking in the sun. Oh, and not forgetting the smallest mouse I’ve ever seen that pops in daily for a feed.

The thought of paying to see an animal inside a zoo feels like taking a step back in time. There is an urge (I’m sure we all have it) that would love to set eyes on some of the incredible wildlife that is kept inside zoos. However the urge is suppressed by the knowledge that animals simply do not belong in what is essentially a glorified prison being pointed and shouted at all day long. 

Our campaign, Tether and Torment, seeks to highlight the cruelty of keeping birds of prey captive, of which many species are native to the UK. How important do you think it is that animals should be kept in the wild?

Birds have a beautiful and natural ability: to fly. These centres take that away, using them as a source of entertainment to make money. Watching a bird of prey gliding through open skies is one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. To deny this is just cruel.

A local bird of prey centre here claims that “if you are of the opinion that all animals and birds should only be in the wild and not in captivity, then you must reconsider”. This arrogant, outdated and dominion view over animals is not only shocking but a clear insight into how little respect some people have for nature. I thank Freedom for Animals for the work they do in exposing and tackling this (hopefully dying) industry.

Do you have any tips for folks wanting to get into wildlife photography?

Just get out there and do it! You literally open up another world once you start slowing down and taking everything in around you. Learn your basic fieldcraft and always remember that the wildlife comes first. The best pictures I’ve taken are when the subject didn’t even know they were being watched.

There is a wealth of information to get you started and to help you understand your camera. Don’t be put off by making mistakes, don’t compare yourself to anyone else, just get out there, love being in nature and enjoy it for you. 

Check out Punk Wildlife's Instagram page here!

Looking for ways to reconnect with nature and help animals?

- Take part in our upcoming Walk for Wildlife!

- Tune in to our Wildlife Webinar, 'Animals all around us - why we don’t need to visit zoos to learn about animals'.

- Buy a ticket for our Spring Raffle!