As each Center Parcs Village is set in up to 400 acres of beautiful surroundings, we’re never surprised when we receive stunning wildlife photos. But we were blown away by some brilliant photography from a Sherwood Forest ranger, who works with the wildlife on a daily basis. We asked Mike Hill to share his tricks of the trade.
From the office to the outdoors
Mike has been working at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest for the past three years after starting a new career as a ranger in April 2013. Mike has always held a deep interest in the environment, so after spending 30 years working in an office, he finally took the plunge and swapped office for outdoors.
The work of a Conservation Ranger differs daily. He says: “We don’t have typical working days – our work can vary, especially depending on the time of the year.” During summer, Mike is largely involved in wildlife surveys on the Village, which involve checking nest boxes, counting and surveying for butterflies, dragonflies and reptiles and recording any other notable flora and fauna found on the village.
“I gain a real sense of achievement in the conservation work I do. As a ranger I’m in the privileged position of being able to plan, implement and see results in my work,” he adds.
What to look out for on your break
We asked Mike what wildlife you’re likely to see on a break at Center Parcs this time of year. He told us that along with the usual Center Parcs inhabitants such as squirrels and various bird species, the Nature Centre at Sherwood Forest is a hot spot for numerous butterfly species such as Red Admirals and Peacocks.
And if you’re on the lookout for a rare spotting, Sherwood Forest is the place to be. Mike says: “I’ve previously seen moth species that are nationally scarce but have local populations in the Sherwood Forest area, such as the Great Oak Beauty and the Scare Prominent, so keep an eye out on your break!”
Mike’s photography tips and tricks
After seeing the wonderful wildlife photos Mike has captured over the years, we asked Mike what his tips and tricks are to mastering wildlife photography.
Tip number one: Patience
“The key to wildlife photography is to not give up,” says Mike. “You might be thinking you’ve been waiting here for five minutes so it’s now time to give up, but it could take you five days to get a good photo.”
Tip number two: Think about your surroundings
“Think about the surroundings and the context of which your focal point is in. You must think about the background to which your subject is set, in order to capture a good photo,” advises Mike.
Tip number three: Find the perfect light
Mike’s secret? “Take a photo when the light is softer. The best time to take a photo is either early in the morning or late in the evening.”
Tip number four: You don’t need expensive equipment
“If you think you need a top quality camera to capture good wildlife photography then you’re wrong,” says Mike. “Most – but not all – of the wildlife photography I take are on my mobile phone. Of course, you may need a little extra patience if using a phone camera, but the ability to capture a decent photo is still there.”
Mike proved tip number four by sending us photos that he had taken on various different cameras . The first of Mike’s two photos were taken on his phone camera and the last two photos were taken on Mike’s DSLR camera.