When Jack Prater quit his job as a mechanic to pursue a career in green energy, he didn’t know it would also give a new dimension to his hobby – wildlife photography.

Having worked at a sewage treatment site in Basingstoke for six months, Jack has captured photographs of some of the rarest birds in the country. And the best among them was the photo of a green sandpiper. Classed as amber in the UK’s categories of conservation importance, the green sandpiper’s photo immediately became viral among birdwatchers in the country.

Jack, 27, lives in Chineham and works as a green energy worker for Thames Water on the Basingstoke Thermal Hydrolysis Plant, where a team turns the town’s sewage into green energy.

“Prior to that, I was a mechanic,” Jack said.

“But I wanted a change from working on cars and the opportunity to do something that is so energy efficient and good made me go for the role which I love now and couldn’t have asked for a better company to be a part of.”

Although it was during the first lockdown he decided to take wildlife photography seriously. his love for camera began nearly 7-8 years ago.

“I first got into photography after seeing a friend of mine post an astro shot of Beacon Hill in Newbury that blew my mind! I already had an old camera and met up with him to learn some basics.

“At the start of the first lockdown, I decided to upgrade my camera and start using it more as walking was really the only thing we could do. I tried all types over the last year from portrait to landscapes and everything in between. But wildlife had always been pulling me back and always made me happiest with my shots. So, I decided in November that I will specialise in wildlife photography.”

His workplace – the sewage treatment site – has so far been his best source for wildlife photography.

“While at work I’ve noticed tons of wildlife! The sewage treatment works are like a hub for all types of animal life thriving on the whole production in every stage because of all the bugs and nutrition that are in the waste.

“We have a small section of drying beds where the surface rainwater recirculates back to our site and is reused in the process rather than just left to go to ground. In these beds I noticed a small wading bird. I just had to know what it was! I’m terrible with bird species as there’s just so many so I tend to take a shot, look online, and if I still struggle to identify, check into a local photography group and ask if they know what it is.

“I really struggled to get a shot of the sandpiper as it was just so timid, but I eventually got one rather terrible snap and asked for the advice identifying it. That’s how I found out it was a green sandpiper, I was told this is quite rare to see in the south and that was about it.

“After a few months of trying and watching the birds while doing my daily rounds, I managed to get three really great pictures one day. I was so pleased with the shots. I shared them to a local photography group where I was then made aware of just how rare they actually are! After this, I spoke to my work to share my excitement with them and next thing I know the pictures have blown up and all across the country people were sharing my images and just as excited to see the little birds in our home.”

The green sandpiper is not the only rare bird he has captured. He also has lovely shots of a little white Egret.

“I’ve also managed to get some lovely shots of our resident Buzzard, who prowls our site all day, and some beautiful deer, and not to everyone’s cup of tea, but a cute rat out in the wild.”

Jack believes Basingstoke has an incredible diversity of wildlife.

“We have Hackwood Park with the lovely deer, Old Basing with the Egret, heron and resident Kingfisher. Chineham is a real hot-spot in its own with loads of song birds, squirrels, Kingfishers and another Egret.

“I try to get out as often as I can. It only takes a small trip to produce loads of images to work with.”

Jack is also thankful to the lockdown which helped him go for walks and capture more photos.

“I honestly think if I hadn’t have been stuck and unable to get on with my normal life I probably wouldn’t have found this drive and love for photography which is crazy as I’ve always been an outdoors kid and spent my life surrounding myself with wildlife from as early as I remember.

“I have been out in the woods and learnt tons from my late grandad John, who used to take us out to the woods and show us all of the ways that wildlife use the areas. I think I’ve been very fortunate in this lockdown as I’ve got a great job, which keeps me in a normality of getting up and going out. And then with walking and exercise being allowed, I can still get out to shoot.”