The best of Dorset in words and pictures

The birds and the bees

In the 1980s, RAF test-pilot Nigel Wood was chosen to lead the British astronaut corps; thirty years on, his photographs of Dorset’s aerial animals shows he is still fascinated by flight

Peacock at Brownsea Island

Peacock at Brownsea Island

Were it not for the Challenger disaster, Nigel Wood would likely be best known to us as Britain’s first official astronaut. As it is, following that disaster, Britain’s space programme petered out and we had to wait thirty years for Tim Peake to take the Union flag shoulder patch into orbit.

Greylag goslings survey the drop of a kerb at Poole Park

Greylag goslings survey the drop of a kerb at Poole Park

Prior to his space training, Nigel flew interceptor flights in English Electric Lightnings against Soviet incursions over the East/West German border during the Cold War.

A cormorant braking hard for a landing at Poole Park

A cormorant braking hard for a landing at Poole Park

Nigel was also at one point the RAF’s chief test pilot. He retired from military service as an Air Commodore in 2003.
He first started photography as a teenager in Singapore, with a camera bought by his father.

Seagullsin an aerial battle for food over Poole Park

Seagullsin an aerial battle for food over Poole Park

Nigel started a photographic website a decade ago and has been taking pictures around the region ever since; he now lives in Canford Cliffs with his partner Caroline, who’s been here for three decades and who is also a photographer.

Bee feeding at Compton Acres gardens

Bee feeding at Compton Acres gardens

Caroline specialises more in dogs and people than Nigel, who only slightly restricts his topics of photographic interest to ‘taking landscapes, travel photography, people and nature photography; we’re lucky that – round here – there’s a lot of wildlife and that by photographing it you’re more engaged with it,’ says Nigel. ‘It’s the pleasure of being out in the environment,’ he adds.

Damselfly resting in the gardens at Pallington Lakes

Damselfly resting in the gardens at Pallington Lakes

Whatever his motivation, his ability to see and then to capture what’s going on around him is born of years of training.

A gatekeeper (aka hedge brown) butterfly at RSPB Arne

A gatekeeper (aka hedge brown) butterfly at RSPB Arne

 

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