3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Cal Cottrell - wildlife photographer

PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 June 2016

Cal Cottrell - Short-eared owl at Blackpool. They look around when they hear the camera shutter

Cal Cottrell - Short-eared owl at Blackpool. They look around when they hear the camera shutter

Cal Cottrell

Cal Cottrell put down his gun and picked up a camera in pursuit of Lancashire wildlife

Cal Cottrell wildlife photographerCal Cottrell wildlife photographer

The phrase ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’ fits Cal Cottrell like a falconer’s gauntlet. ‘You name it, I did it,’ he says. ‘I followed the Holcombe Hunt, went hare-coursing, fishing and shooting. My dad took me ratting, I had a lurcher for hunting, spaniels for collecting game and tried falconry. It was a bit sad really.’

Cal, who describes himself as a working class lad born and bred in Blackburn, adds: ‘I was following in my dad’s footsteps – when I was eight or nine I was out egg collecting. But as I got older I started to make up my own mind. Age has changed me. Now I’ve no wish to kill anything.’

Cal still shoots wildlife but only through the lens of camera and his work shows great promise.

The 46-year-old father-of-two hasn’t cut all ties with his past. ‘I’m still friendly with a lot of gamekeepers, partly because they are a great source of information about where to find wildlife to take pictures.

Cal Cottrell - These hares were captured near Dunsop BridgeCal Cottrell - These hares were captured near Dunsop Bridge

‘It’s also because I can see both sides of the argument. I don’t want to kill animals but without the conservation work on shooting estates we would lose a lot of native birds.’

Cal put away his guns more than a decade ago and has been taking pictures for the last six years. ‘I just started to going to some of my old haunts in the countryside with what was a pretty cheap starter camera with a 100mm lens,’ he says. ‘I am pretty much self-taught although I have had some advice from top photographers such as Danny Green.’

Cal’s wife has most faith in his ability – without his knowledge, she entered him into a national wildlife photography competition and he was shortlisted.

Cal works as a supervisor at an engineering firm. ‘I can’t afford to buy a camera lens for £8,000 and travel to exotic places like the US and Japan so I have to concentrate on British wildlife,’ he says.

Cal Cottrell - It took Cal three months to get this picture of a weasel near DarwinCal Cottrell - It took Cal three months to get this picture of a weasel near Darwin

‘But that’s not a hardship. There is stunning wildlife out there on our doorstep. There is a massive amount in Lancashire and one project I really want to do is otters on the River Calder.

‘Cal also helps nature along by collecting pupae and keeping them in a special tank so he can photograph them when the moths hatch.

‘Patience is the key to everything I do,’ he says. ‘I can spend four to five weeks just watching before taking out my camera. I watched a family of foxes every night, feeding them so I could get a shot of the cubs playing. It took me three days to get the shot of a kingfisher.

‘My wife puts up with me. I’m forever saying I’m just nipping out because I’ve been told there are dragon flies hatching somewhere…but I do get my ears clipped from time to time!’

Cal Cottrell - Southern hawker dragonfly. This image was taken near BoltonCal Cottrell - Southern hawker dragonfly. This image was taken near Bolton

Cal relies on of spotters to contact him when they see animals that would make great wildlife pictures. You can contact him on 07860 484945.

Related articles


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Meet some of the devilishly successful people who make this glorious Ribble Valley town tick.

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

The site was designated Lancashire’s first ever ‘Local Nature Reserve’ in 1968 and is also designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Read more
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A striking sculpture attracts John Lenehan to this circular walk through some oustanding scenery.

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

This varied selection of walks are all within ten miles of the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Natural Beauty.

Read more
Arnside Silverdale
Monday, September 10, 2018

Making a television programme about the Lakes has re-affirmed Paul Rose’s deep affection for the area

Read more
Lake District
Friday, September 7, 2018

A succesful application could see the restoration of the Japanese Gardens and the creation of a water sports centre.

Read more

Is it a village? Is it a town? Who cares when the locals take such a pride in making this such a lovely place to visit

Read more
Thursday, August 30, 2018

A new survey method could unlock the secrets of the bog bush cricket in Lancashire following their discovery on Little Woolden Moss, Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Ellie Sherlock joins the search.

Read more
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Heritage venues across the region – many of them not normally open to the public – will welcome visitors this month

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

It’s officially England’s favourite flower and if you want to see some beautiful examples, follow Linda Viney to Mawdesley

Read more
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A circular walk which skirts the Lune estuary and takes in the Lancaster Canal and the railway line.

Read more

Behind the ancient sandstone facade of Browsholme Hall is a remarkable ethos of 21st century sustainability and care for the environment.

Read more
Thursday, August 16, 2018

Keswick really is a gem of a town – just ask anyone from jeweller Brian Fulton to mountaineering legend Sir Chris Bonington

Read more
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

From cyclists to star-gazers, Bowland is attracting more visitors. It’s Hetty Byrne’s job to ensure they have fun without harming the environment

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Property Search