A NEW exhibition which captures the beauty of Britain’s birds on camera opens to the public this month.

‘Wildlands’, held at RSPB Geltsdale Gallery, will showcase the work of Cumbrian wildlife photographer David Philips, who inherited his love for birds from his father who was a avid birdwatcher, and since childhood has spent hours exploring the wildlife of the North.

“I have a book on British birds which was once my father’s when he was a boy in the 1920s, and I treasure it,” he said.

“Nowadays we hear a lot in the media about environmental issues, and we have easy access to a range of wildlife programmes, but during his time it must have seemed to be quite a strange interest for someone his age.

“Growing up we spent a lot of time together exploring marshes, bogs and grassland and birdwatching, so I formed an appreciation for nature at a young age.”

David bought his first camera in his twenties, and immediately took to capturing birds, insects, mammals and landscapes on film. He has been perfecting his craft ever since.

“Photography has changed so much since I started 40 years ago,” he said. “You were doing well if you got three decent shots of animals when you were using film. Now with all the new technology it is a lot easier.”

David’s work has been featured nationally and internationally in various books, magazines including Country Life and for promotional material for the RSPB in the past.

He was also a finalist for the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards, and as a result was featured in National Geographic and BBC Wildlife magazine.

When it comes to birds David said he has little interest in pursuing the rarities, and prefers instead to concentrate on photos which illustrate the beauty and character in birds which might be considered by some to be common or mundane.

“When you go chasing rarities, you often end up with only a picture of a undistinguishable bird in a bush. It takes a unlimited amount of patience and time to get the shot you need.

“I’m more interested in capturing the sparrowhawk’s hunters’ eye or the striking iridescence of the lapwing’s feathers in the day’s early light. It’s those small but significant moments.”

Since his retirement, David has travelled around Northern England and Southern Scotland to photograph birdlife and has snapped a variety of species on camera including the tawny owl, Avocet, black guillemot bird and sparrowhawk on camera.

This will be the second time that David’s work will have been shown in the Geltsdale RSPB gallery, which opened six years ago.

Farmland warden at the reserve, Ian Ryding, said the gallery had helped to bring in a different kind of audience and helped to raise further awareness of the charity’s cause.

“With birds of prey and breeding wading birds all calling the reserve home, and four waymarked trails across the landscape, it has has long been a popular spot for birdwatchers and walkers,” he said.

“Since the gallery opened however, we’re receiving visits from artists, photographers and those who just want to appreciate nature, which is great because it raises awareness about what we do.”

Currently RSPB Geltsdale is working on creating ideal habitats for both the curlew, a species currently in decline, and the decreasing black grouse.

‘Wildlands’ will run from Friday, July 26 to Friday, September 27 at the RSPB Geltsdale Gallery, near Hallbankgate. Entrance is free though donations are welcome.