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North Norfolk's Wildlife

PUBLISHED: 17:00 05 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:08 20 February 2013

North Norfolk's Wildlife

North Norfolk's Wildlife

The picture of March hares in last month's EDP Norfolk magazine delighted our readers, and there is a chance to see much more of the photographer's work in a beautiful book focusing on north Norfolk's flora and fauna, as Angi Kennedy reports.

Wild and wonderful



The picture of March hares in last month's EDP Norfolk magazine delighted our readers, and there is a chance to see much more of the photographer's work in a beautiful book focusing on north Norfolk's flora and fauna, as Angi Kennedy reports.



His pictures capture moments that most of us are never lucky enough to witness, even in long years of living in rural Norfolk. But for Gary Smith photographing wildlife is a passion that has given him an enviable insight into the countryside around him.




A freelance photographer since 2005, he specialises in nature, farming, gardens and rural life, but it is shots like his lively boxing hares that we featured in the EDP Norfolk magazines Big Picture spread last month, which show him to be a real talent.




With over 20 years photographic experience, Gary has built up a vast library of Norfolk images, as well as travelling throughout the UK in search of inspiration. Yet it was his long-term friendship with naturalist Andrew Bloomfield that spurred him into sharing his photography through a fascinating book that celebrates the rich wildlife of north Norfolk.




We met about 20 years ago and have been friends ever since, explains Gary. We started talking about putting together a book 10 years ago and it is an idea that has just kept bubbling away ever since.
I spent that decade getting the pictures together, and eventually we decided we had enough material to go ahead with the book.




That period also saw the rise in popularity of digital photography, and Gary opted to reshoot in digital some of the shots he had already taken in 35mm format. Wherever I could I would try to redo pictures digitally, but some photographs like the picture of a bittern in the water, which is a really rare sight just couldnt be captured like that again.
The men brought complementary talents to the concept Garys photography and Andrews in-depth knowledge and understanding of the wildlife that inhabits the north of the county.



I picked up a lot of knowledge by reading Andys text, comments Gary. He is a tip top birdwatcher and a well respected and knowledgeable man.




Andrew grew up in Holkham Park in 1967, the son of a shepherd. His upbringing in those surroundings left him with a deep love of natural history and he now divides his time between summer wardening at Holkham and hand-crafting traditional willow fencing in the winter with Burnham Willow.




We work all along the coast of Norfolk and right across East Anglia, using Norfolk-sourced willow, explains Andrew, who lives at Syderstone. Although my summer job is much more directly involved with wildlife, I am lucky that both jobs allow me to be close to nature and out in the countryside.




The book, North Norfolks Wildlife, Discovering its birds and natural history, combines their local knowledge with a well-researched and informative text, plus delightful pictures, that will educate and inspire readers.




It is for people who love the area and who want to know a little more about it, says Gary. It crosses the line between being a coffee table picture-led book and a reference book, and it gives a real feeling of the area and its history." And Andrew adds: The idea of the book is to broaden peoples knowledge and to show the wide diversity of wildlife that makes the area so special.




I hope it will appeal to people who want to know a little more about what is behind the scenes in north Norfolk, and to learn about the history and conservation of the area.




His own enjoyment of writing and his fascination with the birds of his birthplace culminated in a book, Birds of the Holkham Area, that was published in 1993. Since then Andrew has contributed to other books, reports and publications on birding issues.




We are two local boys who are not hugely clever at anything else, but who really wanted to share this love of the north Norfolk coast and its wildlife, concludes Gary, who lives with his wife in the house where he was born at Hindringham.




I know that if I had 1 million in the bank I would quite happily spend the rest of my days photographing the coastline and the birds and animals that live there.




His comments are typically self-deprecating but it is easy to understand how Gary and Andrew feel they still have so much to learn from studying the ever-fascinating wildlife that inhabits the sandy beaches, tidal mud flats, salt marshes, fresh water grazing marshes, reed beds, woods, parkland, heaths and intensively farmed arable fields that make up this mosaic of habitats.




As they say in their introduction to the book; Such diversity has resulted in a richness that is seldom matched, let alone bettered, in much of the British Isles.


North Norfolks Wildlife, Discovering its birds and natural history by Andrew Bloomfield and Gary Smith is published by Red String Publishing, priced 27.99. It is available at Jarrold in Norwich and at bookshops around north Norfolk or direct online from www.northnorfolkwildlife.co.uk

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