Skip to content

Back to Nature - Nick Baker Interview



From a very young age, Nick Baker was strangely curious about the most unusual and exotic creatures, collecting bugs, spiders, frogs and other small beings from his garden, and studying them intensely - much to his parents’ dismay! He turned this rather unconventional childhood passion for wildlife into a fully-fledged career as a radio broadcaster, TV presenter, ecologist, author and professional naturalist. No doubt you’ll have seen him on one of his many captivating shows, inspiring new generations of young naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts. When we spotted that Nick is a keen photographer and a Billingham owner, we were compelled to find out more about his fascinating career.


Nick Baker in the English countryside. Photo by Juliette Mills Photography.
Nick Baker in the English countryside. Photo by Juliette Mills Photography.


Tell us a little bit more about yourself your background and career.

I’m been an obsessive biophile since I can remember. I’ve just always been fascinated with all living things. Badgers to butterflies… they all had a place for me and so I grew up just following my curiosity… I didn’t kill a cat* but it did get me to where I am now! I’m not a specialist in any animal in particular but I’ve naturally fallen into the role of ‘sticking up for the underdogs’. Animals that many people dislike or misunderstand. I can’t stand prejudice of any kind so by default I’m really into snakes, spiders and many species of insect and invertebrate.

*In Britain there is a saying ‘curiosity killed the cat’. Just to reassure our foreign readers!


Which shows and series have been the most exciting or inspiring to work on? What is the project or piece of work you’re most proud of?

I guess my favourite show to work on was one that I came up with. 'Weird Creatures' took me on a journey into the evolutionary history of many of the oddest creatures on planet - it ran for three series and brought animals as mysterious and weird as Pink Fairy Armadillos, Vampire Catfish and Saggy-skinned Frog (with a name that literally translates as ‘aquatic testicle’!) to the forefront of people’s conversation. I enjoyed this series, because not only was it my baby, I was the conceptual creator (which is a rare and satisfying thing) but also it was answering my life’s calling - all under the premise of being a bit of a freak show.


Clip from “Wild Creatures with Nick Baker” on his search for the Leafy Sea Dragon.


You’re known as ‘the bug man’! Tell us why you were so fascinated with small creatures as a young child.

I guess we’ve already covered some of this but as well as sticking up for the creatures that everyone loves to hate, bugs and their fellow invertebrates are the most numerous creatures on earth. They run the place. Understand them and you’re well on the way to understanding how every ecosystem on earth functions. I guess as a kid, before I was diagnosed with myopia (short-sightedness) the only things I could really see the details of were the things right in front of my nose - and these were the woodlice, millipedes, slugs, ants and worms that inhabited my childhood garden. What I quickly learned was that many people didn’t see the world that I was seeing and this probably kick-started my ability to ‘sell’ these animals, and what they stood for, to others that hadn’t ever leaned in and observed their fascinating world. They’re everywhere, and because of this, they are completely accessible - if you need an adventure or to see something exotic, all you need to do is lower your horizons and you’ve got a lifetime of fascination. And, what’s more, you’ll never, ever be bored again.


Close-up of an Egyptian Grasshopper. Photo by Nick Baker
Close-up of an Egyptian Grasshopper. Photo by Nick Baker.


We hear that youre a keen musician when youre not out discovering new specimens or presenting on TV. Can you tell us more about your musical talents?

I love music. It’s very important to me. I particular like music with stories and that teach us lessons. I’m quite eclectic in my musical tastes and I’m always learning about new genres and artists, but my real passion and what I play is Blues - I do like a bit of Folk, some Jazz and Bluegrass but it’s Blues and the cultural history that goes with it that I truly love and study. You could say I’m a Bluesologist. I play harmonica and sing… but I am dabbling with Banjo which I’m getting better at - I like playing it in the old rhythmic style called frailing and also using a slide. I’ve not gone public with this instrument yet.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Nick Baker (@nick_bug_baker) on

Nick Baker at Chagstock Festival. Photo by Louise Ellen (louisekearphotography on Instagram).


Moving on to photography, do you consider yourself a professional photographer?

Hmmmmm, tricky one. I’ve made money selling a few photos but they’ve been illustrative rather than arty. I use cameras to document and tell stories - I’m usually doing something else and so photography is rarely the primary reason for me being in any one place. However, I do try and compose and make the photos I take tell as much of a story, or capture what I like about a scene or an animal, in the best way possible.


Collared Aracari by Nick Baker
While Nick specializes in bugs he is interested in all wildlife – as shown in this beautiful photo of a Collared Aracari.


Did you study photography or have formal training, or was it something that developed over time?

I’ve never been formally taught, I just pick up bits as I go. Tips from other photographers and learning by trial and error.


Who or what inspired you to get into photography? Do you have an idolin the world of photography?

Not really - there are so many talented folk out there - I tend to get inspiration from all manner of places. I did quite like Chris Packham’s style at the beginning - I liked the original spin and not being afraid to manipulate images to tell a story. It’s a difficult discipline but he does it very effectively. I also like the work of Oliver Wright and Alex Hyde, both macro magicians. For warmth and atmosphere I’m a huge fan of Victoria Hillman’s work… it’s simply beautiful.


Coffee Frog (Agalychnis annae). Photo by Nick Baker
 Coffee Frog (Agalychnis annae). Photo by Nick Baker.


Most photographers have a personal favourite photograph. What would you consider to be the most notable picture you’ve ever taken and why?

Again I’m a bit of a perfectionist and so not very keen on any of them… however I did finally get around to Focus Stacking this year, after much encouragement by all those who know me. I finally went for it, and was amazed at how easy it was! Well, when I say easy, it’s never that simple dealing with the frenetic twitching of insects - especially when you need them to sit still for at least enough time to fire off half a dozen frames. But the technique actually gave me exactly what I’ve been striving for for my entire life. When I see an insect in life - my eye does the equivalent of millions of focus pulls as I drink in those delicious details; from the googly compound eyes to the bristles and spines. The wonder of insects is their perfection - every single one of these minuscule features has a purpose, many of which we can only guess at. However one of the limitations of macro photography is that you’re working at such magnifications that depth of field is a real issue, you can only get the thinnest slices of insect in any one photo - which means often, I’m left disappointed. This isn’t how the insects look to me - however with focus stacking, you can combine all these slices and amalgamate them into one textural, sculptural whole. While not a perfect image or indeed very well composed, this picture of a Vine Weevil (that was eating my strawberries) photographed against a bent bit of plastic was my first wow for a while.


Focus stacked photo of a Vine Weevil by Nick Baker.
Focus stacked photo of a Vine Weevil by Nick Baker.


You used to live in Devon a beautiful region for photography. Now you live in a beautiful area of Scotland instead. Do you have much time to go out and shoot in your home location?

I like to get out, of course I do, and living on Dartmoor meant I got lots of opportunities for big skies, incredible light, etc. But it’s the little things I tend to go looking for... the microcosm of those landscapes within landscapes, the combination of clean air and granite bed rock makes for some wonderful macro landscapes among the Lichens, and the lower level of agricultural development means it still a stronghold for amazing insects that are rare or extinct in the rest of the UK - in Devon that was species such as Fritillary Butterflies, Blue Ground Beetle and Southern Damselfly.

Now I’m in Scotland the skies are even bigger as are the hills! It’s a very different place but I’m loving exploring my new home. I’m doing much the same sorts of things as I did in Devon, it’s just the details that are different. I’m living in an invertebrate biodiversity hotspot here in the Cairngorms National Park so every day is an adventure.


Whats in your kitbag currently?

Let’s have a look. I have a section of branch nibbled by a Beaver (collected in the centre of Perth last week – I treasure this because these are the first Beavers to be accepted as native for 400 years!), my Canon MPE-65, my favourite lens attached to my Canon 5D MK IV, Zeiss HT binoculars, a notebook and pen, spare batteries, a pebble and a pebble (for recharging my phone), a lens cloth, gum and headphones and an owl pellet.


Nick Baker with his Billingham Hadley Large Camera Bag.
Nick Baker with his Billingham Hadley Large Camera Bag.

Whats your favourite / most cherished piece of equipment? Tell us more.

My binoculars and my hand lens - it’s difficult to say which is my favourite - they are both improvements on how I interact to the world around me. The binoculars (Zeiss SFs) bring distant objects closer and are a pleasure to look through, and the opposite end of the spectrum is my hand-lens - that makes small things look bigger - my window into the microcosm.


Nick with his binoculars. Photo by Juliette Mills Photography.
Nick with his binoculars. Photo by Juliette Mills Photography.


You are currently using a Billingham Hadley Large Pro camera bag and our Galbin 10 binocular case. What are your thoughts on these bags? How do you find them useful?

The Hadley Large Pro is about as big as I can manage - assuming I can be disciplined and not simply fill it. It’s a good day bag, plenty of room for cameras, lenses and sandwiches. I love the compartments - I hate a bag which is a lucky dip sack, things get broken and you can never find what you need. The Hadley Large Pro has loads of options, padded cells for camera, laptop/iPad, zippered pocket for documents, passports and scripts, two poppered pockets for cables, wallets and useful bits - plus the option for extra add on ‘panniers’ if you need them.

The Galbin is a great replacement for the native case that came with my binoculars. It’s more subtle and tougher than anything I’ve ever had before. I put my bins away at the end of the day, throw ‘em in the back of the truck and I know they’re fine.


A red squirrel. Photo by Nick Baker.
A red squirrel. Photo by Nick Baker.


Which is your favourite Billingham product and why?

My ultimate ‘man bag’ is the Hadley Large. I’ve had this for about 9 years. It’s the perfect size for an all-rounder. I can get my 15” Macbook inside plus everything I need for a day out - cameras and documents and cables. I love the satchel look and the flap fastenings - which are much quicker than the buckles on some of the larger bags.


Nick Baker with his Billingham Hadley Large Camera Bag.
Nick Baker with his Billingham Hadley Large Camera Bag. Please note the 'Hadley Large' pictured and the 'Hadley Large Pro' mentioned separately are different bags.


As well as a naturalist, presenter and photographer, youre also a very talented author and have published multiple books. Tell us about those, and where readers can buy them.

I’ve written about 12 books in total - some are no longer in print. Those that are can be purchased via my website and on Amazon. Most are manuals and explain the practical skills associated with being a naturalist. Two stand out for me. ‘Bugzoo’ was the most fun to write as I was literally writing about animal set-ups that I had already for studying common creatures from my garden. I literally had a photographer design it in my back-room taking pictures of the animals and set-ups while I was writing the text in the next room! It was the quickest and most fun I’ve ever had writing a book. The latest is called ‘Rewild’ and is about how we can all reconnect to nature and how to use the sensory tools we’ve all got at our disposal. It’s a book about personal rewilding - inspired by many folk I’ve met who’ve been way too impressed with my ability to notice, hear and smell things - when the only difference is that I use my senses to their full. Something we can all train ourselves to do. 


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Nick Baker (@nick_bug_baker) on

 The cover of Nick Baker's book 'Rewild' - recommended by naturalist Chris Packham.


You’ve been working with an educational toy manufacturer to create a series of wildlife watching kits. Can you give us more details?

For many years I’ve worked with Interplay to create tools to help young folk actually see those small everyday creatures as relevant, valid, life-forms; each with their own amazing intricate inspiring life. Keeping animals also generates a sense of responsibility and duty of care in humans. As a kid this is what I did - I had a jam jar zoo, a menagerie of little lives which I grew to appreciate. It had become clear to me that keeping creatures in containers and touching things was being discouraged by many - it was a bit non PC I guess. But in this sterilising of lives and removal of experience (little of it deliberate I suspect) we lose a connection with nature and our immediate environment. When we do this, we value it less, therefore don’t look after it and then it’s gone.

Fostering a relationship with other life is something that is essential. It not only nurtures our soul, it is the very thing we are part of… like it or not, our modern lives need a functioning biosphere. It all starts when we’re kids and that was the thinking behind the kits, get ‘em young, empower them and the world becomes a slightly better place. All that from a kit that shows you how to keep snails!

Snail World - One of Nick Baker’s wildlife watching kits.
One of Nick Baker’s wildlife watching kits.


What do you get up to when youre not out studying nature, taking photographs or presenting on TV and radio? Whats your biggest passion or hobby?

Errrm, I’m usually studying nature. It’s not just a job. It’s me. It’s a life-style, it’s my sanity, my inspiration. It’s what I do and have always done. I can’t think of a more perfect day off than just playing with my microscope and a bucket of pond water - just looking and seeing. Then I see something amazing and that becomes the beginning of an article, a book, a photographic project and drawing. I do like to draw. I love cycling. Bikes are another big passion of mine - I can be a bit of a bike bore. I love them as a mode of transport, as an exercise but also just as beautiful objects. I collect old hand tools - I try and use them as well, billhooks, scythes and axes. I work on the allotment and in the garden and I tinker with aquariums and my living collections of cockroaches and spiders, too. 


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Nick Baker (@nick_bug_baker) on

 A glass frog in a glass. It’s skin is so thin you can see it’s internal organs. Photo by Nick Baker


Where can readers follow you on social media? What can they expect to find?


I don’t really have a goal with the social media - but I tend to just post stuff from time to time that seems interesting to me - it might be to you as well? You will often get behind-the-scenes insights and occasionally an OK photo of a bug or something?


You have a significant fan base! Do you have any forthcoming events, talks, tours or workshops where people can come along to meet you and discover more about your work?

It’s best to keep an eye on my web site for details. I know I will be at Global Birdfair this year (2023) and it’s the perfect place for a chat.


You run regular nature-watching tours. Where can people find out more about those, and what can they expect?

Most tours will be on the web site as well. I’m working for Wildlife Worldwide and will be running programmes in the UK and abroad for them. I also run regular Highland wildlife excursions with the Grant Arms in the Scottish Highlands a couple of times a year.

In 2024 I will be trying something a bit different and I’ll be leading Wildlife and Whisky trips with a friend of mine. I’ve always been fascinated by Whisky and the various flavours, and the fact you’re drinking the landscape fascinates me. But I’ve never really known how to penetrate the mysteries of this world without coming across as an idiot - that’s where my mate Simon came in - he’s a publican of the finest kind (he was the manager of my old local in Devon before I moved to Scotland, he now runs a cheese shop) and there’s not much he doesn’t know about any alcoholic beverage - production, its chemistry, and its associated architecture. And he’s a massive fan of whisky. So we’ve combined two fascinating subjects in one trip! I do the wildlife and in between he does the whisky - or is that the other way around?

More details on my web site and that of the Grant Arms in Grantown-on-Spey.


Whats next for Nick Baker? What are your next big projects?

I’m about to start painting an Otter for the Dartmoor Moor Otter Project, and I’m currently writing up and pitching several TV ideas which look like they might just have legs - many in fact! I’ve got some more internet based filming projects and a couple of books on the go - I cannot really say much more than that really, as they are all in development and a bit secret… shhhhhh!


Nick Baker with his Harpia 85 Spotting Scope and Camera. Photo by Juliette Mills Photography.
Nick Baker with his Harpia 85 Spotting Scope and Camera. Photo by Juliette Mills Photography.


Find out more about Nick Baker at:

Web site:
Online shop:


Featured bag from this article:

Billingham Hadley Large Camera Bag - Black FibreNyte / Black LeatherHadley Large Camera Bag


Share article

Your cart

Your cart is currently empty.

Continue shopping
  • {{ item.final_price | money }}  ({{ item.quantity }})

    {{ item.product_title | pre_title }}

    Size: {{['_Size'] }}

    Colour: {{['_Colour'] }}