Behind the Lens with Barry Yates

14 March 2019 | Posted in Project
Behind the Lens with Barry Yates
Bittern (c) Barry Yates

I have been privileged to manage Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and live here with my family for over thirty years. 

Sheep grazing rye harbour farm at sunset 07742

I previously studied breeding birds in Lancashire, Sutherland and Shetland. My first degree was entomology and I have an O' level in photography!

In terms of photography, I like to capture the beauty in nature and share it with others, hoping that it will help them to appreciate wildlife more. To be a good photographer, it helps to have patience, persistence and perspective. Look at your subject through the camera from new angles.

4 ducks 

I started with a Russian Zenith camera and graduated to a Nikon, but film was not so forgiving as digital, and good equipment was so expensive. Now even a smartphone can take good images of wildlife. I sold my bulky, heavy DSLR equipment about two years ago for an all in one Sony RX10, but then discovered the amazing macro abilities of the Olympus TG5. The two cameras cover everything I need and I always have them with me.

Ringed plover 09228 

My favourite shot is of a tiny spider I found on a leaf in my garden last summer, it had created an egg sac of amazing design. I didn’t know such things existed and the photo captured them both.

Paidiscura pallens with egg sac 

The biggest challenge to photograph is terns feeding their young. They are often a long way off, the pass of fish takes place so quickly and birds can often look awkward.

Sandwich tern feeding its chick 02543 

In terms of where, and when, historically, I would most have liked to take a camera, it would have been great to be with Darwin on his voyages, to photograph wildlife at a time before people had started to have such an effect on the natural environment. But I don’t think I would have coped well with the conditions on board the Beagle.

Sunrise at the mary stanford lifeboat house 2 7822

What I want to do with my photos is to highlight the things in nature that are difficult to see, things that are tiny, or that a happen only occasionally or occur very quickly. 

Because as Sir David Attenborough said:

“No one will protect what they don't care about and no one will care about what they have never experienced”. 

It’s always pleasing when a photograph is seen by many people in print or online. This has happened with a couple of my photographs of the moon. Then there’s hope that one more person will care and protect nature.

Superbloodwolfmoon RHNR (c) Barry Yates

After years of running the reserve from a cramped cottage with few facilities, prone to flooding, Barry is delighted that work on the Rye Harbour Discovery Centre has now begun. A joint project between Sussex Wildlife Trust and the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, this fantastic new visitor centre should be ready to open in 2020 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. "The Discovery Centre will make the reserve a more welcoming place all year round for visitors, volunteers and staff."   


Sussex Wildlife Trust is currently running a public appeal in support of the Discovery Centre - details here  

Anyone interested in learning more about the Discovery Centre can request a monthly newsletter to keep them posted about sightings of some of the outstanding wildlife at the reserve, news of upcoming events to support the project and other ways to donate to the Appeal.


  • Robin Harris:

    03 Apr 2019 10:57:00

    Great stuff, Barry – text and photos both first rate


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