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Fenland Wildlife

The Wildlife Whisperer

Jamie Corney is a family man, living at home in Turves with his four dogs, one cat and five chickens. When he isn’t running around after his two boys, Jamie can often be seen hidden behind bushes and trees hoping to catch a glimpse of the Fenland wildlife. His photos have been amazing fans on social media, so we caught up with him between shots to find out more about the man behind the lens

WORDS Natasha Shiels IMAGES Jamie Corney

When did you start taking photos?
I’m a passionate nature fanatic and an amateur wildlife photographer, whether it be animals, plants, insects, sunsets/sunrises, drone photos, macro and landscapes or anything nature related. I’ve admired nature ever since I can remember and have been taking photos since I was a teenager, but in the last few years I have really taken more of an interest in photographing what I’m seeing.  

What subject did you start with?
I started taking photos of local areas, such as the river running through Whittlesey and the fields down Black Bush. When I was a youngster I remember taking photos of the cows in the fields, flowers along the river and also ladybirds in my garden.   

Have you always had an interest in the local Fenland area?
I love the Fens, I’m born and bred here! I lived in Whittlesey until I was in my mid 20s and then moved to Turves. It’s flat around here and a mountain or two wouldn’t go amiss, but the dramatic sunrises and sunsets we get are unbeatable when they are at their best. We also have a good variety of wildlife with plenty of good local nature reserves. I also love the history of the Fens, how it was drained and farmed. I find it amazing to think that it was all under water. 

What camera do you use and what would you advise a hobbiest to start with?
My current camera is a Nikon D500 and I also have a Nikon D5300. I have three main lenses, depending on what style and subject I am shooting. 

 A good starting camera would be something that has auto settings so the camera does all the work for you, then you can enjoy just taking photos. Once you have had a fair bit of practice, you can experiment with other settings, changing the effects by altering the shutter speeds, depth of fields and light.

What’s been your highlight?
Oooh that’s a tough one… Every photo I decide to upload from a certain day out are all a highlight to me one way or another. But I think the recent photograph of the vixen was a real highlight, mainly because I had spent a few weeks leaving my trail cameras out watching her closely and planning as to where I thought was best to set up one night. It all worked out nicely in the end and I was so happy. Wild foxes are very nervous, unlike their urban cousins who will sit in your garden quite happily not fazed by humans. So for me to get so close to a wild fox was so special.

What wildlife have you seen most of? Any surprises?
Definitely too many to name, but I’ve seen birds, mammals, insects etc. I was surprised to find cranes on the RSPB Nene Wash, and of course to see three types of deer (roe, muntjac and Chinese water deer).  

How has lockdown affected you?
It has been an awful situation for everyone and my thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones. I think the one thing lockdown has taught me is that happiness and health is more important than any job or deadline, and that the smaller things in life are what’s more important. Even the simple walks with family or bike rides felt so good and cost nothing. It’s made me realise that if you want to achieve something in life then you should just go for it and try to see what happens. One wise person told me a little while ago: “Fate favours the brave” (thanks Natasha), so I’ve been trying to stick to that motto ever since.   

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I’d like to get a decent printer so I can start selling my photos. I plan on taking a lot more trips to places for landscape photography opportunities, hopefully once this virus is under control a bit more, so my online presence can grow from strength to strength and open up many more doors. I think in the current climate though, within the next five years, I just hope everything gets back to normal and everyone is safe again. 

How have the public reacted to your photos? 
The public’s response has been amazing, it pushes me further knowing others enjoy the moments with me. I’ve had a lot of good feedback from my actual photography page too, which is growing in strength weekly. 

What are your top locations? 
Anywhere around the Fens with fields is a good place to start, or places with ponds etc. Even your back garden! But if you’re looking for actual nature reserves then we have plenty of choice. The best thing is to Google local wildlife parks in your area. Woodland Trust sites and Wildlife trust sites are useful too. My top sites are: 
Wood Walton Fen – near Ramsey
RSPB NENE WASH – Eldernell in Coates
Holme Fen – Holme
Kings Dyke Nature Reserve – Whittlesey (membership required)

You can follow Jamie on social media by searching ‘Jamie Corney Photography’. He is a regular contributor to the ‘Nature of the Fens’ Facebook page. You can also follow Jamie on Instagram or get in touch by emailing jamie.corney.photography@gmail.com

Jamie’s top tips
1. Grab your camera and get out as much as possible. Take 1000 shots of one subject until you’re happy.
2. Watch as many videos on YouTube and read as many books as you can for tips and tricks. The internet is a blessing if you use it right.  
3. Learn from your mistakes, if you’re getting angry because it’s not right then that means you’re passionate, but use your passion wisely and don’t give up.
4. Get familiar with certain areas. Often I will just go for a walk and sit still to see what appears. Have patience. Ideally you want to be able to get in and out unnoticed. Safety comes first. Let friends or family know where you’re going in case something happens. Always carry a mobile!  
5. Have fun, any time spent outdoors is good for your mental and physical health. 

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