A good kick up the backside.

Look I don’t want to sound like a martyr but I’ve been very busy these last years. And? Well, with some things I’ve taken my eye off the ball, my foot off the pedal, my mind off the prize. Enter stage left, Mr Andrew Parkinson.

I’ve known Andy for a few years and always respected his no-nonsense approach to wildlife photography. I also like the fact he thinks – far too much as it turns out! I recently spent a couple of weeks guiding with him on two of our Winter Wildlife tours (I’d been trying to recruit him as a tour leader for some time but he has over-inflated ideas about his financial worth) and he took the opportunity to remind me of some home truths – more than once. Trouble is, you can get too close to things to see them clearly and hands up, that’s what I’ve done with some of the feeding stations around our base, in particular our red squirrel sites.

So what’s the problem? Well nothing really but let’s face it, a red squirrel sat on a mossy stump has kind of been done. 5 years ago it was fine; today…well you have to move on and that’s what Andy politely pointed out (actually his rather dictatorial tone was far from polite as I recall). Andy’s fresh eyes and fresh ideas have given me a new perspective, a new energy and we’re embarking on a number of improvements to provide visiting guests with new opportunities. These flying/running/jumping squirrels are just the beginning.

So thanks to Andy (and it has to be said other guests too) for making some very helpful and constructive suggestions. We’ve always made a big play on our tours about the opportunity to learn from each other – and here’s a case in point. A good kick up the backside is what I needed and I feel so much better for it!

You can learn more about the enigmatic – and rather rude – Andy Parkinson by listening to my One 2 One interview with him here.

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7 thoughts on “A good kick up the backside.

  1. funny you wrote this. I am kind off in the same state. done enough normal squirrel shots. and my girlfriend and I kept on discussing how to get a kickass shot from our squirrels, without them cheating on us and robbing us off the shot.
    they can be pretty smart animals ( some are stupid ) so the setup has to be squirrel-proof. but we do not have andy kicking our but, would be nice 😉
    I think we should talk squirrels during a quiet moment in Svalbard.

  2. Great squirrel shots, but they do make me realise I didn’t really “nail it” with my flying squirrel on this year’s Winter Wildlife tour. However, it is nice to know I may be one of those guests with such shots, although if I’m honest it was pure fluke on my part!

    Roll on our next visit, I’ll get that perfect squirrel photo one day.


  3. I think the word is complacent, we’ve all been there at one point or another, if it works we sit back on our laurels and let it continue but in today’s market place there’s always the risk that someone out there will do it bigger and better than us, your squirrel’s work and I look forward to seeing what you come up with next! Love the flying shots but the possibilities are endless as with anything there’s a lot of time involved but you always seem to produce the goods,What’s next? Maybe something involving water!


  4. I am looking forward to the trapeze cross-over shot and the flaming hoop for them to jump through 😉

    As witness to part of the conversation on “improvements” I can concur that Andy is a no nonsense ideas man. Perhaps less appreciative of the work that had already gone in to the sites and that must now take place to make it the place to be for red squirrels.

    I’d say invite him back for a long weekend and give him a hammer and some nails to help build some of the new hides.

    I had fun getting some of the first flying squirrel shots 😀 But look forward to the “all new improved” acrobatic squirrels at Ballintean.

  5. The word I’d chose is “focus”. You’ve been focussing on other things. You’re refocussed back on squirrels. And all the better for that – marvellous actions photos. Given me some ideas to focus on down in Devon where sadly we only have greys.

  6. Thanks for the (I think) kind words Pete, hidden as usual under thick veneer of well deserved abuse. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for you to spit out such compliments, I would try to do the same for you as my employer but the best that I can do is say that ‘Amanda and all of the guests were a joy to work with’.

    Joking aside I can’t really take all of the credit, after all it was Robin (Norfolk) who’s quest for a flying squirrel shot (on his last day!) was what first got the cogs whirring and allowed us to later develop ideas which profited the second weeks guests (tip for Robin – all ideas are best shared at the beginning of the week, now you’ll have to come back and have another week with Pete and I).

    And of course there was the invaluable, and equally honest feedback from Cheryl who shares my passions for both honesty and some ruthless Cairns’ mocking! Oh how we sat and chortled about the driftwood!

    Cheers boss, yes I know, my P45 is in the post!

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