Stunning images of crocodiles in Madagascar, polar bears in the Antarctic, exotic birds in Peru and camels in Oman have all been captured by Norfolk-based wildlife photographer and film-maker Martin Hayward-Smith during his globe-trotting career.

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And now a nationwide prime time television audience will see the fruits of his latest work, which has been closer to home.

Mr Hayward-Smith has spent much of 2012 filming the third series of Wild Britain with Ray Mears, which begins on ITV1 tonight.

He has filmed nine episodes and covered the length and the breadth of the UK.

Mr Hayward-Smith, who lives in East Barsham, near Fakenham, has worked on all three series of the show.

He said: “It’s been an absolute joy working with Ray and the team; it’s been pretty much the same people for the last three years.

“I think the team did a fantastic job in all weathers to show wildlife and the landscape in Great Britain at its best.

“I feel very honoured to be able to be placed in some amazing landscapes, and to sit and film spectacular wildlife in this series, from great bustards on Salisbury Plain to beavers in Scotland.

“There are many times I have to pinch myself and think that I get paid to do my hobby - it’s something that I do not take for granted.”

Mr Hayward-Smith learnt his craft from his father, Brian Smith, a press photographer who worked for the EDP.

His career, which spans more than 25 years, has seen him work in some of the most spectacular and remote parts of the world.

And while it is a lifestyle that will be the envy of many, Mr Hayward-Smith explained that his job requires extreme patience and can also be very risky.

He said: “I spent 120 days last year filming a programme on rabbits for a Japanese television show. For 30-odd days I was up from dawn until dusk trying to get images of a stoat taking young rabbits.

“I had to keep waiting and waiting but the elation I felt when I got it was unreal.”

Several years ago Mr Hayward-Smith spent two years living in Madagascar filming for Survival TV.

He was highly commended finalist in the BG Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition organised by BBC Wildlife Magazine and the Natural History Museum for a picture he took of a mother crocodile carrying her newly-hatched baby in her jaws.

He said: “I would pitch up in the open each day and film the crocodiles. It was quite terrifying at times. I would keep my silver camera boxes around me in case one ran at me and I had to defend myself. That never would have stopped a crocodile running at full speed at me.

“There was one point when a crocodile kept getting closer and closer to me. It got to just 8ft away. It then picked up its newly-hatched babies in its mouth and as it turned away its tail brushed across my camera.

“It was very intense but I had an amazing experience out there.”

Tonight’s episode of Wild Britain with Ray Mears has been filmed at the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland.

It begins at 8pm. The show will then run at the same time every Friday for the next eight weeks.

Mr Hayward-Smith is to give a talk and film show on High Grove, a film he made two years ago for ITV, at the Hawk and Owl Trust at Sculthorpe Moor on February 5 at 7pm. Call 01328 856788 for tickets.

1 comment

  • Sounds like Mears programme will be not so much wild Britain as re introduced by wildlife zealots Britain and the usual theme that there has to be hills and moorland for there to be wildlife. Must tune in to see the work of the local camera man though.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Friday, January 4, 2013

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