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Chester photographer's Autumnwatch owl footage is a head turner

Sam Ryley's video and stills of short-eared owls are praised by BBC presenters

A Chester-based photographer and film-maker is delighted after Autumnwatch Extra featured his footage of short-eared owls on the Dee Estuary.

Sam Ryley, who shot the video and stills on the Wirral side of the estuary last week, sent the images to the popular BBC show who used the whole four-minute-long film last Thursday lunchtime (November 5) including the photos tagged on the end.

Presenters Brett Westwood and Richard Taylor-Jones not only provided a full running commentary but thanked and name-checked Sam live on air and offered compliments such as ‘great pictures’, ‘these stills are beautiful’ and ‘these are wonderful, absolutely wonderful photographs’.

“Thanks guys, you have made my year!” blogged Sam, 33, a commercial photographer, who has a studio in Upper Northgate Street and lives near the canal in Chester.

He told The Chronicle: “I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of wildlife photography this year with the aspiration of taking this to professional level. It’s one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever undertaken. Last week I was up on the Dee estuary filming, a very important and fantastic local area for wildlife, mostly looked after by the RSPB. I was photographing short eared owls.

“I was able to get some amazing stuff, there was an influx of the owls on one day and I was able to capture them showing lots of different types of behaviour, hunting/chasing each other and floating over the landscape. I put a film together and sent it to the BBC wildlife team at Autumnwatch.

“They got straight back to me and said they were excited to use it on Autumnwatch Extra. I said of course!”

Sam, who is originally from Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, added: “When I saw it on iPlayer I was really surprised that they had actually used the whole piece of work as in the four-minute documentary edit I put together. I’d only expected that they would take 30 seconds maximum so I am over the moon.”

Sam’s film’s ‘Short Eared Owl’ appears in episode 11 of BBC Autumnwatch Extra still available for viewing on BBC iPlayer. Sam has lived in Chester for the past three-and-a-half years and has been a professional photographer for 11 years.

View Sam's website to see more of his work.



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