Blogger: Oliver Creamer
Joining up with 2020 Vision means that over the recent months I have formed an intimate relationship with the landscape and wildlife of Wallasea Island. One thing about Wallasea is how dull it may appear one day, then the next it yields a staggering amount of biodiversity. Many of you may have visited the island a month ago... Only to return days later and find the Oil Seed Rape to have sprung up to a point where the vertically challenged of us best not wander into the fields without a GPS!
Upon my first visits to Wallasea Island, I witnessed the immense colonies of Brent Geese. On the ground they look like minuscule, but as soon as they take flight they block out what little sun of this British climate we have! Then spectacularly, typical of Wallasea's ever changing environment, they disappeared in the space of weeks - migrating to Greenland and North America to breed. The island yields an impressive variety of birds-of-prey, from Merlins to Short-Eared owls! Sitting in a car somewhere deep in the island usually results in an owl flying gracefully and carelessly past, seemingly unaware of any human activity; truly one of the few surreal experiences that Wallasea shows.
Water voles are one of the more elusive species and as a photographer, they are a refreshing and welcome sight in the viewfinder. Walking or driving around Wallasea, the odd paddle of a water vole isn't a rare sight - however for a real close encounter, you'll need to hang around at dawn and dusk. Typical signatures of the water voles' presence are holes up to 4 inches above the water level, often stomped down; paddled down platforms of mud, grass, wood or concrete (often in the open) that serves as latrines; and finally a niche with fresh herbs and grass is a vole's favorite meal, other than apple!
Some of you may be wondering 'What is 2020 Vision about? There is no optician on Wallasea!" Far from it, 2020 Vision aims to be the biggest British communication project to date. The aim of the project is to open the entire British public in an attempt to get the UK to think more consciously about the environment. 20 professional photographers are mentoring 20 'young champions' over a period of 20 months at 20 individual sites. Up until early next year I, alongside Terry Whittaker, will continue to document the impressive transformation of Wallasea Island from arable farmland to regenerating salt marsh. For me, these amazing experiences will be numerous in the future and I hope for the many of you, whether you're a Wallasea regular or just an avid blog reader, you get to see some of the sights I've come to see and photograph in the last few months.