DogaBilim Talks | Chris Bradbury, Naturalist&Photographer, England

Hello Chris. Can you tell us about yourself?

  • I was born and live in England since 1949. As a child I was fascinated by the bird and animal collection in our town museum. Some boys played football at weekends but my friends and I walked in the woods looking at the nature. At the age of 30, I met proper bird watchers and began to travel to increase my bird list. Now I have seen 450 species of birds in Britain and usually go to see the very rare ones. In 1985, I bought a Pentax camera and began to photograph butterflies and dragonflies. Now, I am the dragonfly and damselfly recorder for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire covering 4700 km squares, which is 5% of Britain.

Black Hairstreak male (Satyrium pruni) I love hairstreaks because they are difficult to find. This on lays eggs on plum trees, and spends most of its time in treetops feeding on the sugary excretions of aphids. I spent 5 hours to get this shot which I consider one of my best.

-When did you first meet the damselfly. Can you tell us a little bit about your stories?

  • On hot summer days, as a birdwatcher, it is not so interesting. I remember one particular day, I was walking on heathland in Sherwood forest with my wife, and we sat for a while by a pond. Our son came to me with a dragonfly to ask what it was. He thought I knew everything, but I only knew it was a dragonfly. I took a photo, and later identified it as a female Black Darter (Sympetrum danae). Now I know that these are scarce in Nottinghamshire. None have been seen in recent years. That was when I began to photograph dragonflies. A new book, for the first time gave them vernacular names, so I didn’t have to learn those difficult scientific names. Now, I find the scientific names quite easy through reading more.

Southern Hawker Dragonfly (Aeshna cyanea) This is the nymph which lives in water for up to 4 years before emerging and shedding its final skin to become a breeding, flying adult.

This was photographed in pond-water on a white dinner plate, at the suggestion of my wife. The method is now recommended by the British Dragonfly Society.

-Which sources do you research the types of animals you photograph? If not secret, can you mention her sources? 

  • For European birds, I prefer the Collins Bird Guide. It is expertly written wjth excellent illustrations. It is important with all identification books to read the script and compare the words to the pictures. It helps me to memorise the important features. I have other bird books, lots of them, but this would be my only one. For dragonflies and damselflies, I have the Fieldguide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe, by Dijkstra, Schröter and Lewington. Richard Lewington is possibly the best illustrator ever of insects.
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“When I was 31, out ringing forest birds at night.”

-Why did you choose nature photography? You could play football on the street like your friends but you did not choose this. Isn’t it difficult for you to be a different person in your environment?

  • Sport never really interested me so much. When I was a boy, I was the smallest in class and our footballs were made of leather. When the ball was wet, it was like kicking a brick wall, so I was not competitive. Nobody told me that footballers attract girls, so I became a guitar player instead. Guitars are heavy, but I don’t have to kick them so much.
  • It can be difficult socially. Those football watchers in the pub treat me like a visitor from another planet, but I like to be different.
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“That is my MusicMan Axis guitar, similar to the one that Eddie Van Halen used for some time in the 80s”

-I just wanted to talk about music too. I watched footage of you playing guitar at Littleborough Music Festival. You look so happy when you play the guitar.

  • I had my first guitar for my 15th birthday and it became my passion to learn to play. When I was 17, I saw a guitar band rehearsing at a youth club and asked if I could play an electric guitar. They allowed me to have a go and soon asked me to join the band. I played with them for about 5 years until I got married. Then, when I was 40 I joined another band and played Pink Floyd music with them for 10 years. We also played a rock musical in the theatre, for which we wrote 25 songs. Now, I don’t play professionally but I have 8 guitars and all of the amplifiers, and effects pedals that I have collected.

-I know you are also interested in classic cars. If I remember correctly, was the last time you had a red classic car. Are you still interested in classic cars?

  • Classic cars are one of the interests that I share with my son. I bought a Porsche 924S when he was 20, so that he could also drive it. Later, I exchanged it for a 944S. I drove Porsche every day for 10 years. They do hold value better than most cars, so they can be quite economical. Now we both have BMW. I have a 325 CI Sport and my son has a 125 Cabriolet which is very fast.

-I’m sure there will be many people who will enjoy reading your story. Finally, What do you want to tell them?

  • My life philosophy has been to follow where my heart takes me. I don’t chase money. For most of my life, I have been head-hunted for jobs by people who know me and want me to work for them. I still work and I will be 72 this year. The important thing is to be nice and live with the people that you are happy with.

-Thank you so much Chris.

  • You are most welcome my friend.

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