|a polar bear hunting the pack ice at midnight for our BBC series of three films "Kingdom of the Ice Bear" - 1983-85|
Wildlife has been a passion of mine since childhood and after leaving film college in 1965 I started a career making films with the BBC Film Unit. I left in 1973 and since then have been lucky enough to spend nearly fifty years out in the wilds with some wonderful animals and people.
|the Andes Mountains in Patagonia can be a violent place, the wind lifting water off the surface of lakes|
|happiness is being high up in remote places|
However, if you look up Hugh Miles on the internet you’d think, judging by the pictures that all I ever do is go fishing … if only … but it’s simply one of many hobbies I enjoy, gardening our two wooded acres being the most time consuming, especially as a stream flows though our patch and we’ve created five ponds.
|'home sweet home' ... and always a joy to return to my family after weeks in the bush|
So if this blog is going to be representative of my life it might be a good idea to start telling a few more stories about the animals I’ve been lucky enough to live with. But before I do, I’ll add a few words about my blog.
Since I started writing it has so far conjured up over 206,000 views from all over the world and I find it unbelievable that it has attracted so much interest. I know this number is only small beer compared with many blogs but 200,000 seems like a lot of readers. I’ve written five books but maybe this beats them for readership.
Unexpectedly, only 50% of readers come from the UK, for the USA contributes 25,000+ and most surprisingly, Russian viewers sometimes outnumber those in the UK. Other unusual countries include China, Brazil and South Korea though what they see in it I can’t imagine.
However, if my ramblings about wildlife, gardening and fishing are enjoyed by so many, I’m delighted because I simply love telling stories ... and some of them are true! For better or worse it’s in my blood and friends and family keep on insisting I should share my adventures. So if you keep on reading, I’ll keep on writing.
|barnacle geese nesting in the remote north east of Greenland, filmed for the BBC's 'Ice Bear' in 1984|
My job as a cameraman/producer required me to ‘live on the edge’ and I’ve always admired that famous ‘gardener’ who restored the glories of Heligan, Tim Smit because he believes that “if you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much space".
|Ladakh in the Himalayas - filming for ITV's "Searching for the Snow Leopard" and usually only seeing footprints - 2001-04|
|camera 'traps' enabled us to identify individual cats. This was our territorial male called Mikmar at 15,000 feet|
I’ve been trying to live on the edge since the 1970’s, so writing ‘tales from the bush’ seems like a natural extension to my past life creating stories for television. Writing a blog combines words and pictures, is a lot quicker, cheaper and easier than making films and in spite of the limitations, it seems like a reasonable alternative … but where to start?
|glacier ice is always wonderful, whatever the continent ... and it sure is exciting when large lumps break off|
It could be the Arctic or Antarctic, Svalbard or South America, Alaska or the Himalayas, New Guinea, even the UK … but I’d hate you to think I’m attempting to win ‘bragging rights’. I’m no publicist and quite shy but I’ve been extraordinarily lucky and consider every film I made a privilege because being able to live with charismatic animals and many marvellous folk is indeed a treat.
|the Himalayas become ever more inspiring the higher you climb - filming for the BBC/David A's "Planet Earth" - 1982|
|the Impayan Pheasant is Nepal's national bird, also called appropriately 'the bird of many colours'|
I have more than my fair share of special memories and even if I’d prefer to use my remaining time on this planet living in the present and future, recalling past adventures is enjoyable too.
|the star when filming our BBC leopard film called "A Darkness in the Grass" - 1985-6|
As any photographer will have already noticed, I'm not a 'proper' stills photographer because if something good is happening I need to have the film camera in my hands to capture the action. Compromising the quality of the movie isn't an option so I've never taken many stills. Those I do are strictly happy snaps but don't get me wrong, I love taking pics but don't have the fancy cameras with auto focus etc. In fact, most of the pics are taken before the digital age on slide film using cameras that should be in a museum.
Anyway, the first major wildlife film I made was when I was head of the RSPB Film Unit. I'd 'done' blue tits and other cute birds more than enough so for one of the most exciting birds in the world I needed to look no further than the osprey.
|mum with two cubs almost ready to fly - one of several intimate moments filmed from the top of towering scaffolds|
As a postscript, the film eventually sold to over forty countries so it turned out to be a nice little earner for the RSPB. As a staunch supporter since childhood, I was well pleased.
|strike action! ospreys are such exciting birds and filming them for my RSPB movie was memorable - 1977-78|
|a suitably friendly greeting on the first of many visits to Africa|
|dinner time for the pride but for the wildebeest within a few hours, it's dust to dust|
|a big fat mum with her little fat cubs - and filming for the BBC's legendary series "Life on Earth" was complete - 1978|
|eight feet of towering bird above me -1978-79|
In the end I found a way of getting them to trust me and the result was a fascinating film that won me the Panda Award for best photography at the first ever 'Wildscreen', the world's leading wildlife film festival held every other year in Bristol. There was an amusing twist to this result because the prize was either the processing and printing of enough film for a half hour movie - very valuable - or an inflatable dinghy - more exciting. My son Peter was gutted when I returned home without the boat!
|our male standing guard over his eggs and hatching chicks|
|our lady with her creche of chicks|
|at home on the wild and windy shores of Shetland|
|what a privilege it was to film these beautiful animals in Shetland's wind and rain ... though the sun did shine too - 1980-85|
|seriously cute or maybe not? - three plus months of 'playful' but eventual killers|
|they were always fond of lumpsuckers, a big meal and easy to catch|
Now they are everywhere in the country and it's ironic that instead of the long journey to the Shetland Isles I can now film them in our garden in Dorset, eating our fish! Their recovery is one of conservations' greatest success stories, though I doubt many ducks and fish think it's cause for celebration.
These early successes with my filming meant that the world was opening up for me and next up I was lucky enough to be picked to film another extremely popular three part series for the Beeb,"Flight of the Condor". It was the pan pipes that done it!
|the Andes Mountians in southern Chile - one of the most stunning locations to film in the world - 1980-82|
|Torres del Paine National Park is home to many condors and was our filming base for a few weeks © Laurie Campbell|
One of the most exciting moments when filming in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile was the brief sighting of a puma. This lit a fire so inspiring that I made a vow to return one day to try to make a film about these elusive cats.
|my star cat 'Penny' the puma that I lived with on and off for more than two years -1993-5 ... © Laurie Campbell|