Ben Porter is a photographer, ecologist and conservationist from North Wales with a passion for the environment and doing what we can to protect it for generations to come. Read Ben’s contribution to Stories within Our Isles, where he talks about living on Enlli (Bardsey Island) and his passion for capturing the wildlife that lives and passes through his local Welsh landscape.
I’ve always had an interest in wildlife growing up in the foothills of Snowdonia in North Wales, yet it was intensified when my family and I moved to the small, rugged island of Bardsey off the Llyn Peninsula in 2007.
As a young teenager growing up on a remote island off North Wales, I didn’t exactly have what you’d call a conventional upbringing. When I wasn’t helping out on the farm or being home-schooled, my spare time would be spent immersed in nature, watching and photographing the incredible array of wildlife that calls this little jewel of an island home.
From lounging haul-outs of grey seals around the bay’s seaweed-covered rocks, to the bustling seabird ‘cities’ on the island’s coastal cliffs, with its clamour of razorbills guillemots, kittiwakes and fulmars; there was always so much to see on the island.
It was during this time on Bardsey that I developed a real passion for photography, capturing images of everything from the most miniature insects to the more charismatic species like Choughs and Little Owls. Photography for me went hand-in-hand with my time spent learning about the wildlife around me, relying on good observational skills and gaining insights into the amazing behaviours and characters of those species we shared our island home with.
It’s perhaps not surprising that the coastal environment holds a special place in my heart now, and the rugged coastline of Enlli (Bardsey Island in Welsh) and the Llyn Peninsula is where virtually all of my photography has taken inspiration. In spring, the arrival of seabirds like Puffins and Shags to coastal nesting sites is always a very exciting moment, along with the return of sub-tropical migrants like Whitethroats and Swallows; come summer the landscape takes on a rich tapestry of colours as wildflowers and grasses infuse coastal cliffs and fields, and you might perhaps glimpse a Porpoise or Bottlenose Dolphin offshore; autumn sees heathland burst into purple colour, with Skylarks and Meadow Pipits abounding alongside the arrival of thrushes from Scandinavia; and by winter I look to the coastal bays and headlands as ferocious storms pound the cliffs and provide inspiring seascapes to be captured. There really is never a dull moment.
One of the main aims of my photography is to use imagery to try and inspire people to get out and immersed in nature; to learn about its myriad fascinations and to engage people with the world around us during a time when the majority of the population has never been more detached from nature. I hope to combine photography with research and conservation as I move forward into a career, but will always remain rooted to this place and particularly that species island which sits in the swirling tides off the tip of the Llyn.
Photographs & Words by Ben Porter | @benwildimages