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Photographer's life in focus

Sitting in a school assembly hall at the age of 10, Tom Robinson could never have imagined those few minutes would spark a lifelong passion and career in wildlife preservation.

He was listening to a talk by Lincolnshire wildlife photographer Nick Williams and felt compelled to get in touch when he went home.

Photos by Tom Robinson and Lee Hellwing

Tom sent him a letter and soon found himself sitting with Nick in Bourne Woods in a pop-up hide taking pictures.

He said: "That's where the passion was born.

"At that time I was told being a wildlife photographer was a stupid idea so I trained to be an electrician."

It was after returning home from travelling in his 20s that Tom decided to down tools and follow his dream.

He now runs a successful business hiring out wildlife hides and dedicates hours of his spare time to developing habitats in the villages between Bourne and Stamford.

Tom, who lives at his family farm in Toft, said: "I came back from travelling and found myself in the perfect situation to do it. I had the land and the get up and go to finally do it. It was hard work for two or three years but now it's paying off."

The business, Wildlife Photography Hides, has six permanent hides which can be hired out by wildlife photographers for 12-hour sessions. They are perfectly placed for capturing images of owls, buzzards, kestrels and kingfishers.

Tom, 30, has also planted hedgerows in the surrounding area to provide a food source and to give something back to the wildlife which has given him his livelihood.

This dedication to protecting the wildlife means the locations of Tom's hides and projects are kept under wraps, but most are sited on his family's land around Bourne. Guests are escorted in and out to make sure nothing is disturbed.

He said: "The wildlife's welfare always come first and a percentage of the profit is put back into habitat creation and management."

Tom is particularly keen on flash photography and using artificial light sources to create artistic images.

He holds a Natural England licence which allows him to disturb nests for photography purposes. Applicants need to provide photos they have taken of unprotected birds in their nests, to show they can act responsibly.

His latest project is a barn owl structure which he built with the support of Travis Perkins in Bourne and The Scaffold Company which donated materials.

The brick-built structure stands three metres high and includes a roof area for kestrels and bats as well,

Travis Perkins branch manager Chris Benton said: "Tom approached me to say what he was planning and we immediately said we would support him with the materials.

"It's a great cause."

One of Tom's most rewarding projects to date has been the creation of a pond where he has captured photos of otters and kingfishers.

He said: "If you create a habitat, the wildlife will move in.

"Capturing the otter was a highlight. We didn't even know they were in the area but they came to the pond naturally.

"To have something find a habitat that you've created is quite something."

Tom has already identified two more sites for future projects and would love to work with ospreys in the future.

He would also like to see more people take an interest in the natural world.

He said: "People should definitely take more notice of what's around them. Most people tell me they've never seen a buzzard before, but I bet they have, they just don't recognise it."

To find out more about Tom's projects visit www.wildlifephotographyhides.co.uk/conservation-work

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