LIFE THROUGH A LENS: Above, Cameron Sharp, who set up Teesdale Wildlife Sightings.
LIFE THROUGH A LENS: Above, Cameron Sharp, who set up Teesdale Wildlife Sightings.

When his ambition to study digital imaging was put on hold due to the pandemic, photographer Cameron Sharp set up Teesdale Wildlife Sightings with stunning results. Nicky Carter chatted to him...

A SHARP shooter’s online photo group has brought Teesdale’s wildlife into focus. For the past three years, photographer Cameron Sharp has been delighting and inspiring folk in Teesdale and further afield with the stunning images and videos he shares in an online social media group he established.

The 25-year-old self-taught photographer from Barnard Castle, whose ambition is to be part of the BBC Natural History team filming wildlife around the world, got started snapping when he was a teenager.

Cameron said: “I really got started about 11 years ago when a waxwing ended up in my front garden. I photographed it and it even ended up in the Teesdale Mercury.”

He added: “It was just when I was getting into wildlife properly and since then it has grown. While I was at university, with access to the whole northern coastline of Wales, along getting involved with the RSPB, it was great to be with students who shared my interest in birding.”

After completing his studies in zoology at Bangor University, Cameron was set to attend a 12-month post graduate course at the University of Nottingham studying digital imaging, but put those plans on hold due to the worldwide pandemic.

He added: “Just as I was finishing uni it was the start of the pandemic, so I put off going as it was going to be distance learning.”

Making use of his time in Teesdale he set up a social media group, Teesdale Wildlife Sightings, where people can share their shots of diverse range of wildlife in the area.

The Facebook group has been a big hit and now boasts 1,300 members who daily upload their latest sightings.

As well as videos of otters by the Tees, swarming honey bees, lizards lazing in the sun and ermine coated stoats, there are a plethora images of the magnificent birdlife that lives in, and visits, the dale.

Cameron said: “Before uni I thought I had seen everything in Teesdale, but coming back I realised that I have hardly seen about a third. I have so much more to explore.

“There are a lot of people in the dale who are interested in wildlife and it’s not just me posting photos. I don’t post for likes I post for people to be aware of what’s outside their window and hopefully encourage them to go out and look for themselves.”

When not at work at the Co-op, in Barnard Castle, Cameron heads out to different locations in the dale at least twice a week to capture images to build up his portfolio, but has also been involved doing field studies for the Natural England study group.

He added: “I’m very biased towards birds. But just seeing some of the wildlife that might not be there in ten years is part of it.

“I’m not in it for the money, or likes, I’m in it for the experience. It is very much the enjoyment of seeing wildlife up close.”

The 25-year-old is waiting for confirmation he will be among the new cohort for the digital imaging course at the University of Nottingham, which he hopes will bring him a step closer to realising his dream of working on the BBC’s natural history team that films wildlife all over the world.

l Search for Teesdale Wildlife Sightings on Facebook.