Tigers | Practical Photography Magazine

Photography

I am super excited to announce that this months edition of the Practical Photography magazine contains another of my photos! This picture features in a special edition of their regular ’10 Clicks’ section on young photographers. I took this one at Wingham Wildlife Park in Kent. I love getting images like this which have, literally, captured the action! As regular readers might know I have a huge love affair for Wingham Wildlife Park and I’m so so happy that it’s these pictures which have been featured!

I was lucky enough to get another of my shots in a previous edition of the magazine. This was one of Wingham’s Chimpanzee’s which you can see here.

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The Bay Trust

Uncategorized

The Bay Trust are an inspiring education, conservation and preservation charity based on the White Cliffs of Dover. They’re on a mission to get communities working collaboratively and igniting the public’s curiosity in nature and the world around them. They do this through a number of means – from sustainable working to outdoors learning and even a museum!

Over 10 weeks in 2018 I had the inspiring opportunity of collaborating with The Bay Trust.  My internship involved creating signage and learning materials for their gardens – showcasing the ecological features and the work of the charity.

 

 

 

The Fed Cup | #ThrowbackThursday

Photography

For this week, I’ve put together some of the pictures I took at April’s Fed Cup. Held at the Copperbox arena in London, the GB tennis team battled to victory against Kazakhstan for a place in tennis’ World Group.

Pictures above (clockwise): 1. The GB bench cheer on the team, 2 and 3. The GB team celebrate their tie victory, 4. Johanna Konta, 5. The GB team with the ball boys and girls for the day, 6. Johanna Konta, 7 and 8. Katie Boulter, 9. The celebrating team GB with coach Anne Keothavong, 10. the Copperbox crowd. 

Animals at Play | BBC 2

Animals, TV and Book Reviews

If you’re after a new TV show packed with cuteness and inspiring insights in the natural world then you have to watch Animals at Play on BBC 2.

As Gordon Buchanan investigates – your kids may run riot when they play but this actually has a proper reason behind it. All animals spend vast amounts of time and energy at play. You may have thought it was a useless and function-less thing but in actual fact it’s vital to everything that an animal learns.

Why don’t they get bored of playing the same games? The answer to this may lie in research. In humans and animals alike, dopamine and endorphins are the body’s natural reward chemicals. They’re also highly addictive. This drives the animals to play the same games over and over again. This repetition can then help to develop the neural pathways in the brain. This is a process called synaptogenesis.

Being young gives the animal time to make mistakes in the hope that they’ll be pros when they’re older. They’ll master the art of leaping, pouncing and all the things which make them the animal they are right up until those actions are hardwired.

Why and how these animals play can be assessed with the power of research. The world of science defines play with a few simple rules.  It’s got to be something the animal engages in voluntarily and the reward has to be the activity itself. In other words, food can’t be a reward! It also takes place much earlier in an animals life than when they’d usually see a serious version  of that behaviour. Lastly, the animal has to be in safe and relaxed state.

The show visits a huge range of the world’s species, from young gibbons that spend 20% of their time catapulting themselves between trees to cheetahs that play. They also take a look at the Komodo Dragon, where research suggests for the first time that reptiles also play.

So next time you see an animal playing – remember that they’re learning some life skills in front of you! Take Elephants for example, once they’ve mastered how to use their trunk it has an unbelievable level of dexterity. It can even pick individual leaves off tree branches! They’re learning depth perception, how to hunt and how to interact with the world around them. 

See the power of play for yourself on Gordon Buchanan’s new show ‘Animals at Play’ on BBC2. 

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Baby Elizabeth at Wingham Wildlife Park is one of the most playful chimps I’ve encountered!

Why has it been so hot? |#ClimateTalk

Climate Talk

This week Britain baked in seriously uncomfortable temperatures of nearly 40C, breaking the all time UK record of 38.5C. This isn’t the full story as it followed a record breaking June across Europe as far as heatwaves are concerned. Why has it been so hot, and is the climate change to blame?

If it is to ‘blame’, then what can we do about it? Perhaps we shouldn’t be thinking of ‘blame’ or ‘not to blame’ but more the likelihood of events like this happening because of climate change in the future.

Heatwaves have a changing definition based on the average seasonal temperature of the given year. If you compare current heatwaves to their counterparts about a century ago – they’re now about 4C hotter. Climate models are also showing heatwaves to be more frequent and more serve than they predicted.

We then begin to look at how weather patterns have evolved over time and particular weather patterns which could directly correspond to climate change. Heatwaves, storms and floods – is climate change to blame for these weather patterns too? Scientists are more certain that heatwaves are – but they aren’t so sure about floods and storms.

Take floods for example. They have battered the Midwest of the US this year – but why? We know that the atmosphere is holding more water vapour than ever before – we’re pretty sure that this increases the likelihood of extreme rainfall. There are so many other factors involved here – development of floodplains, fields, dams and even car parks!

Whatever your outlook on this – the saddest part is probably how the public access and treat these risks. Okay heatwaves could well be far more likely due to climate change but understanding the likelihood of extreme weather events will give us better information to help us beat climate change. Apparently local officials in the Midwest purposefully avoided talking about climate change in relation to the floods. Whether this was due to climate change denial or a polarised political environment we don’t know. Some might say it’s so the officials can focus on causes which they can directly address – but what about striving to achieve the unachievable?

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Gone with the rain – is this a picture of British summers to come? 

Finding Nemo…

Animals

…. or a clownfish! 🙂

These fish, which are also called anemone fish are probably one of the most recognisable of all. Named perhaps after sea anemones which they could share their habitat with, each fish is incredibly similar – they’ve only got super small differences in shape and places they inhabit. Before they take up residence in an area they perform a dance with another fish, gently touching the other fish until they become acclimatized to the nearby fish.

Amazingly, they also have a layer of mucus on their skin to make it immune from the a sea anemone’s sting. Weirdly, all clown fish are born male and have an ability to change sex to become the dominant female. Once they’ve switched, they can’t switch back.

The good news is that this species has quite a lengthy lifespan, living up to 10 years in the wild.

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Clownfish (Image: CC0)

I DID IT!!! – and some thoughts…

London Marathon, Running, Sport

As a short disclaimer before you read the rest of the article. Since Sunday I’ve become aware of some horrendous stories about the back of the pack. Apart from my XS t-shirt I didn’t experience a lot of what has been shared. On Sunday I saw no sweeper vehicle, but as I write below I’ve chosen not to focus on the issues. This isn’t through lack of caring – more a case of not wanting people to forget the reason they started this. They say before a marathon you’re racing yourself and I think even after the marathon it’s important to keep in mind. I will be putting a post together on those issues in the coming days. 

I am a London Marathon 2019 finisher….

How cool is that???!

The London Marathon is one of the world’s most famed marathons, through the streets of the capital about 40,000 people take to the streets ton conquer the dreaded 26.2 miles. On Sunday I completed the long long…longgggggg trek through London in a snails pace – but equally perfectly fab pace of 7 hours 12. I completed the first half pretty much on track for 6 hrs 15 but various reasons meant I fell a little off the pace.

They say every marathon has a journey – and I reckon mine began back in 2016 when I did my first half marathon in my first year at uni. Back then I was 2, maybe 3 stone heavier – with a ridiculous obsession for chocolate. I’d just come out of school which was a total mixed bag – not bad but by no means an incredible experience! Back then, it was all a matter of the simple act of doing something not many people would have assumed to be possible. At the time, 4/5 years post spinal fusion (read about that here!) – it was about proving to the doubters  that hey, I  could do stuff too!

Then if you fast forward to January this year somehow it came around to training for the London Marathon! – of course that has 5 half marathons, a 10 mile and 10k in between! Early mornings – going from Canterbury to Whitstable, along the seafront and back happened quite a few times. I made social decisions, at times, based on whatever my training plan said for the following day. I’ve been able to walk into actual real supermarkets without supplementing everything with chocolate – anddddd even after the marathon I’m still doing that! I AM BORED STIFF OF OATS – but that’s another story! I’ve spent a grand total of 63 hours and 33 minutes running this year – it’s only the 1st May! I’ve gotten through the autobiographies of Mo Farah, Gary Barlow, the Spice Girl’s Mel B, Bryony Gordon’s 4 books, Adam, Hills, John McEnroe and “Trust Me, I’m a (Junior) doctor” by Max Pemberton. I can only thank the authors of those audible books for their entertainment!!!

Essentially – the London Marathon has revolutionised me. I’m confident in the fact it doesn’t have to be quick, and slow IS fine. I look at these photos and I’m amazed at the fact I actually look like I’m meant to be there and haven’t just randomly arrived in London to see what the heck’s happening!

The marathon is so much more than the day itself. I might have significant bruises on my knees, the worst blisters on my feet but I got there. I  RAN THE LONDON MARATHON. If you came to support on Sunday – from the streets of Greenwich to the crowds on Tower Bridge its a huge showing on the best of humanity. The kids you high 5, to the sweets given out on course, the music, the cheers and encouragement.

London, you were incredible!

Of course this was all for two amazing charities, The Youth Sport Trust and Make a Wish UK. You can still donate here: https://claire-nicholson.com/2019/05/01/i-did-it-and-some-thoughts/

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Flamingos | Wingham Wildlife Park

Animals, Photography

Flamingos are amazing creatures native to  the Americas. Their name comes from the Portuguese or Spanish – flamengo meaning ‘flame coloured”.  Usually, they’re seen standing on one leg. We don’t really know why this is, but one of the most common theories is it’s to conserve body heat as they spend a lot of their day wading through cold water.

Pictures above were taken at Wingham Wildlife Park on a Nikon D3200