Just wild about life

Sheffield Wildlife Book ''Flowers Roads
Sheffield Wildlife Book ''Flowers Roads
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STUNNING pictures of nature in the raw...

STUNNING pictures of nature in the raw...

Hedgehog + snail, head close up,  Erinaceus europaeus, Peak District''Wild Sheffield

Hedgehog + snail, head close up, Erinaceus europaeus, Peak District''Wild Sheffield

Beautiful images, captured by award-winning wildlife photographer Paul Hobson, of Stannington, are to be made into a book – with help from readers of The Star.

The hardback collection – the first to feature exclusively Sheffield wildlife – will be produced by Paul in partnership with Sheffield Wildlfe Trust.

“Sheffield has the most fantastic wildlife, probably as diverse as any city in Europe,” said Paul who has been taking pictures full-time all over the world since he quit his lecturing job at Hillsborough College two-and-a-half years ago.

“The book will be called Steel City Wildlife: A Celebration Of Sheffield Wildlife And Wild Places.

.Mountain Hare,  head in hole, hiding, white pelage, Grampians, Scotland, Lepus timidus

.Mountain Hare, head in hole, hiding, white pelage, Grampians, Scotland, Lepus timidus

“I have the images for a 150-page book. We are looking for £10,000 sponsorship from a company or companies and they will get their logo on the front of the book. I think it would be great for a Sheffield business to be seen to be backing it.”

Paul’s favourite image is of a wood mouse eyeing up some beer bottles in his shed.

“I was trying to capture images that are recognisably Sheffield and I’m a big fan of all three Sheffield breweries, Abbeydale, Bradfield and Kelham Island, and I stored a lot of their empties in our shed.

“I wanted to get a picture of a wood mouse against the bottles.

.Common toad, Bufo bufo sitiing on fly agaric, Amanita muscaria, Peak District

.Common toad, Bufo bufo sitiing on fly agaric, Amanita muscaria, Peak District

“I baited the area with peanuts to get the wood mouse to come out – there is a colony of them living under our shed – and once it was coming regularly to nibble at the peanuts it was just a matter of waiting for the right moment for the mouse.

“In one of the shots it’s as though he’s almost wistfully looking at the beer and wishing he could have a taste.”

Most of the other images are set in the wilder parts of the city, some within the urban heart of Sheffield.

“The mountain hare was taken on Stanage Edge,” said Paul.

“You wander around at dawn or dusk until you get an idea where the hares are, then you can go back. You need to walk round very slowly with your camera until you can spot one in the heather.

“The mountain hare isn’t native to these parts, it was introduced by the Victorians to shoot for sport.

“Of course they still turn white in winter as if they were in the north of Scotland and until this last couple of years they have stood out against the dark moors.

“For the first time in years they have had good camouflage in all the bad weather we had but ironically they have not done too well in the extreme cold – it was too much for a lot of them.”

From the wilds of Stanage to a city area reclaimed for wildlife.

Stunning wild flowers are featured in one of the book’s brightest images.

“The flowers will attract wildlife and it’s great for the city to have that kind of visual impact,” said Paul. “A drive round the city centre on the way to the Parkway suddenly becomes very attractive.”

Perhaps Paul’s most impressive picture is the one of a toad sitting on a toadstool (where else would it sit?)

But he confesses the amphibian needed a little encouragement to pose.

“The toad one is a set-up shot,” he said.

“There are iconic images of toads which everyone loves and this is one of them. The ultimate toadstool for the toad is the fly agaric. A fairly common but iconic autumn toadstool.

“I was commissioned to do some toad pictures so I had to find a toad in the garden, drive out to Rivelin Valley and persuade it to sit on the toadstool for ten minutes.”

Paul also grabbed some woodpecker pictures in the Valley.

“I run a bird feeder down there every winter and I often put some props there for the birds to feed on.

Paul’s image of a hedgehog and a snail was taken in his own garden and won him a category prize in the British Wildlife Photography Awards.

“It was a rescue hedgehog that I was looking after for a friend so it was used to me and whenever it rains our garden is full of snails.

“I just had to wait for a while for the right moment.”

Steel City Wildlife will cost £19.99 and it is hoped it will be on sale in major bookstores and supermarkets. 40 per cent of profits will go to Sheffield Wildlife Trust.Potential sponsors can contact Paul on 07505 351821 or email paul.hobson6@virgin.net

See more wildlife pics at www.paulhobson.co.uk

For more information about the Wildlife Trust see www.wildsheffield.org