Photo gallery: Wildlife spectacle from Aylsham doctor
- Credit: Archant
Doctor Kevin Elsby's love of nature and wildlife has seen him photograph some of the world's most flamboyant and vividly-coloured flora and fauna, from kingfishers on the Norfolk Broads, to rare hummingbirds in South America and polar bears in the frozen landscapes of the Arctic.
But, while viewers of his stunning photographs may be able to identify the creatures they depict by their distinctive markings, the Aylsham GP often has to rely on his other senses to distinguish between species.
'I found out I was colour blind when I had a test with the school nurse at the age of about 12,' he explained. 'This instantly prevented me from being a train driver, an airline pilot and an astronaut – a job I would have liked at that age - but, although it can be a handicap, I use sound quite a lot, as well as looking at location, movement and habitat.'
Welsh-born Dr Elsby, who will be giving a talk on Norfolk's wildlife at Cley Village Hall on January 16, developed a love of natural history during his school days, and became a passionate birdwatcher after picking up a pair of his father's binoculars aged 14.
He fell in love with north Norfolk after persuading his parents to book the annual family holiday at Cley.
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'I had read about how many rare birds there were and it drew me like a magnet,' he said.
Training as a doctor in a London hospital saw him working up to 130 hours a week and his hobby had to take a back seat but, after a further three years' training as a GP at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn, he joined Aylsham's Market Surgery, where is now senior partner, and his love of nature – and wildlife photography - was rekindled.
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'Having a medical job is a huge privilege, but it can get quite stressful and birdwatching is a great way to switch off,' he said. 'But, over the years, my interest has expanded to include all aspects of natural history, from birds and butterflies, to mammals and insects.'
In spite of working up to 60 hours a week, Dr Elsby, 54, has found time to gain a masters degree in wildlife, biology and conservation, also winning a distinction award from the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain, chairing the Norfolk Photography Group and being made a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, where he now sits on a committee reviewing work by other top wildlife photographers.
He has also published two photography books, gives talks for Norfolk Wildlife Trust and, for the past ten years, has given lectures on cruise ships travelling to far-flung locations ranging from Australia and Africa, to South America and the Antarctic.
'I think that, if you are passionate about something, then you find time,' he said. 'And, at the end of the day, the number one rule of wildlife photography is that the welfare of what you are taking pictures of has to come first and if what I do contributes towards conservation, then that has to be a good thing.'
Dismissive of the 'mystique' surrounding wildlife photography, he is happy to discuss his technique, which can sometimes entail using six flash guns at once.
'There is a lot of potential cliquism, but I think wildlife photography should be for everyone and I am all for letting people know how I take my images,' he says.
Among the hundreds of thousands of photographs taken by Dr Elsby are images used in top-selling calendars, magazines, greetings cards and textbooks, but, while he has snapped rare and endangered species from all over the world, there is one creature he has yet to capture on camera.
'If I had to pick one thing I'd like to photograph, it would be the Cuban bee hummingbird, It is the smallest hummingbird in the world and notoriously difficult to find,' he said.
Dr Kevin Elsby will be giving a talk entitled Norfolk's Wonderful Winter for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust north Norfolk group at 7.30pm at Cley Village Hall on January 16. Entry is £2 for members and £3 for non-members.
For more information about wildlife cruises featuring talks by Dr Elsby, visit www.naturetrek.com.