© Image:Jarrod Kyte Where Eagles Dare
Mike Unwin, travel and nature writer based in Brighton UK. Voted UK Travel Writer of the Year by the British Guild of Travel Writers. 
Mike Unwin, travel and nature writer

Professional wildlife and travel writer, photographer, birdwatcher and long-term friend of Wildfoot Travel, Mike Unwin has always had a passion for eagles. Here he explains how it all started and how it lead to the creation of his latest book The Empire of the Eagle .

My first ever eagle was a golden: I was seven years old, on holiday in the Scottish Highlands, and my father spotted the bird cresting a ridge high above our picnic site. A mobbing buzzard, just half its size, provided instant scale. Unfazed by its tormentor, the huge bird continued its long, gliding trajectory, as though on an invisible zip-line to the horizon, leaving the buzzard circling aimlessly over our heads.

I was hooked. As a fledgling birdwatcher, a ‘goldie’ was as glamorous as a Siberian tiger. And since that day, I’ve been lucky enough to see eagles in many parts of the world. Deep in a Panama rainforest, I have watched a mighty harpy eagle visit its nest in a towering almendro tree. On the Zambezi river, I have canoed past snorting hippos while African fish eagles yodelled overhead.

© Image:Jarrod Kyte
© Image:Jarrod Kyte

In Mongolia’s Altai mountains, I have felt the power of a golden eagle’s talons when a traditional Berkutchy eagle hunter placed his bird on my leather-gloved wrist. And two years ago, on a Wildfoot cruise to the Russian Far East, I watched Steller’s sea eagles, the largest species of all, soaring against the smoking backdrop of Kamchatka’s volcano skyline.

Stellers Sea Eagle
© Image:Mike Unwin

There’s something irresistibly alluring about eagles: the predatory power, the imperious glare, the easy magnificence in flight. Indeed, few wild creatures have made more of an impression on the human imagination. Eagles are, in a way, the avian equivalent of big cats, elevated to emblems of pride, power and freedom worldwide – from the Roman legions to the US air force.

Steller's sea eagle -Copyright Mike Unwin
© Image:Mike Unwin

For the traveller, meanwhile, eagles mean exciting places. These birds’ basic needs – unspoilt wilderness, with plentiful prey and few human threats – mean that if you’re watching one, you’re generally somewhere pretty impressive. And each new sighting brings the same thrill: that sense of being in the presence of a top predator; a bird that holds life and death in its unflinching gaze and can exit our world with just a beat of its wings. The birds seem the very embodiment of the wilds they inhabit.

"The Empire of the Eagle" by Mike Unwin The Empire of the Eagle An Illustrated Natural History Mike Unwin, David TiplingSuch thoughts and inspirations lie behind my new book, the Empire of the Eagle, which I put together with top wildlife photographer David Tipling. A photographic celebration of the world’s 68 species of eagle, it aims to illustrate their sheer variety – from desert-dweller to mountain-rider, and snake-eater to fish-catcher – and to open a window onto the lives of these fascinating birds.

The book also spells out the many conservation threats that eagles face. Sadly, despite their iconic status, these birds don’t inspire everybody. Like predators of all kinds, many still find themselves heavily persecuted for their alleged attacks on livestock – or running out of space as their hunting grounds are developed and their forests disappear. Today many of the world’s 68 species are under threat.

© Image:Mike Unwin

So, all the more reason, then, to visit eagle country. With luck, your presence there may help convince its custodians of just why these birds are so important. Either way, I wish you the same stirring memories of fabulous places that these wonderful birds have given me.

Mike Unwin’s book, the Empire of the Eagle, was published in November by Yale University Press. It covers every one of the world’s 68 eagle species, with stunning images taken and curated by top UK bird photographer David Tipling.

"The Empire of the Eagle" by Mike Unwin The Empire of the Eagle An Illustrated Natural History Mike Unwin, David TiplingYale Books is pleased to offer Wildfoot Travel subscribers the opportunity to buy The Empire of the Eagle by Mike Unwin and David Tipling at £24 (rrp £30) with free p&p within the UK. Please find the book at www.yalebooks.co.uk and use your exclusive Wildfoot offer code EAGLE at checkout.
Offer is valid from 14/12/2018 to 28/2/19 and is for UK orders only.

Here is a small selection of images from the book.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”18″ gal_title=”Where Eagles Dare”]

An imprssive ice structure in Greenland Focus On: Northeast Greenland National Park & Scoresby Sund

A huge welcome to professional wildlife and landscape photographer, Dave Wilson of Northwinds Photography (www.northwindsphotos.com). Dave specialises in US National Parks, Botswana, and the polar regions.  Here are some of Dave’s fascinating images and thoughts about NorthEast Greenland after a recent trip to the area.

Northeast Greenland National Park, covering almost one million square kilometres is the world’s largest National Park.  Due to the relative inaccessibility and vast size, however, this is not a National Park in the normally accepted sense. Travelling there involves either significant advance planning or, more normally, joining one of the ship-based expeditions that visit the more accessible areas at the southern end of the Park: Kejser Franz Joseph and Kong Oscar Fjords, along with the neighbouring Scoresby Sund.

What awaits the visitor, however, is an area of amazing beauty: enormous icebergs; other-worldly geological features; and an overall sense of the wonders of natural wilderness with little to no signs of human intervention.

When To Go

The northerly location (between 71ºN and 75ºN) restricts most trips to the summer months, with the majority of vessels reaching the park between July and early September.  This does mean extremely long days.  The sun doesn’t set until the end of July / early August (depending on how far north you are) and you can still expect 16 hours of daylight at the end of August in the southern end of the region.  Even then, don’t expect warm weather – highs in the single digit Celsius are about as good as it gets – so pack with plenty of layers, not forgetting head and hand coverings.  When the wind picks up (especially when on deck of a ship), the effective temperature can get to well below freezing.

Highlight Areas

Your itinerary will be determined by the guides on the ship and impacted by sea-ice and weather conditions, so planning on visiting specific areas is something you should expect to be flexible about.  The more time your ship has put aside for the area, the better, as there are amazing sights around every corner.  The sheer scale of the three fjords is difficult to appreciate until it is experienced.   Relocating from one landing site to another can often mean 30-40 km of cruising.  Here are eight highlight areas you may encounter.

Walterhausen Glacier, Kejser Franz Joseph Fjord

If you want to get a quick object lesson in the size of the landscape and its features in this part of the world, Walterhausen Glacier is a good place to start.  The calving glacier has a 10km wide front with the face often reaching up to 50m high. A cruise along the front of the glacier brings home its vast size that can still be appreciated  from a distance of some 6 nautical miles.

copyright north winds photography

Blomsterbugt / Ymer Island / Teufelschloss

Spectacular scenery abounds in this area, dominated by the sheer polychromatic cliffs of the Teufelschloss (the Devil’s Castle) which rises 1370m above sea level.

Blomsterbugt / Ymer Island / Teufelschloss copyright north winds photography

It is also a good place to see some of the local wildlife, being a frequent hang-out area for Musk Oxen.

Musk Oxen in Greenland - copyright north winds photography

Kjerulf Fjord & Nordenskjold Glacier

Iceberg in Greenland - copyright north winds photographyRarely visited, Kjerulf Fjord offers a refuge for icebergs that have calved from the Nordenskjold Glacier.  Being quite sheltered, this provides an excellent opportunity for a Zodiac cruise among the icebergs, giving a magnificent close-up perspective of these beautiful structures.


The contrast between the icebergs and the metamorphic rocks of the surrounding cliffs is particularly striking.Iceberg in Greenland - copyright north winds photography


Maria & Ella Islands

A boat in greenland = copyright north winds photographyThese islands form a small archipelago at the intersection of the Antarctic Sound, Kempe Fjord and Kong Oscar Fjord.  Visible on Maria Island are the remains of German fuel drums from WWII as well as building materials from the various geological camps that have been situated in the area.

Ella Island is home base to the Danish Army’s Sirius Patrol whose responsibility it is to patrol the east coast of Greenland throughout the year.  Despite the remoteness of the location, this is an extremely prestigious and sought-after assignment.  The area is ideal for hiking and is particularly noteworthy for its striking geological formations.

Rainbow - copyright north winds photography


copyright north winds photographyThe fjord is so-named because it forms the western boundary of the Stauning Alps, a 40x40km cluster of some of the highest mountains in East Greenland.  It is home to the combined fronts of the Gully and Selfstrom glaciers.

Also in the fjord is the Dammen, a lake that had risen 60m above sea level caused by the glaciers running into the opposing cliffs. In the last few hundred years, this glacial dam was breached leaving a gap between the glacial tongue and the cliffs. Beyond this gap (which allows ships to pass along the entire front of the combined glaciers) lies further glaciers, icebergs, brash ice, and stunning cliffs.


Segelsallskapet Fjord

The spectacular mountains in the fjord provide good examples of folded and faulted sedimentary rock layers amongst the Eleonore Bay formations.  The landing site provides miniature versions of those layers that look like striped candy. This is a truly unbelievable landing site that will pique your interest in geology like nowhere else, and certainly provide the photographers a plethora of subject matter.

Vikingebugt / Bredegletscher Glacier

Even compared to the last location, Vikingebugt won’t disappoint your new-found interest in geology.  An intrusion of volcanic material 60 million years ago left an pile of basalt up to 10km thick.  As it cooled and contracted, the basalt formed into almost perfect hexagonal structures.copyright north winds photography

The neighbouring glacier is particularly proficient at producing massive icebergs that slowly drift out of the fjord into Scoresby Sund. By the time they reach the relatively open water they have been moulded into the most spectacular shapes.

Ø Fjord / Milne Land

copyright north winds photographyThis fjord provides the ship-bound visitor a splendid opportunity to appreciate the multitude of shapes and the range of colour that icebergs can exhibit as they make their way down the channel into the main body of Scorebsy Sund.

A series of Arctic images and reflections with thanks from Dave Wilson. Photographer. You can see more of David’s work at North Winds Photography

Happy New Year!

Kerry’s superb wildlife art is exhibited at a number of venues, especially in the UK and, like Wildfoot, she will be at the next British Birdfair at Rutland Water in August.

Before that, Wildfoot will be promoting visual art of a different kind at The Photography Show at the NEC from 18th to 21st March. Come and see us on Stand B73 and learn about special wildlife photography expeditions and opportunities in the world’s wild places.

Kerry writes a regular blog about her adventures meeting these animals and her creative process, which we are proud to share with you.


Hi there folks I hope that this, my latest Blog for Wildfoot Travel, finds you all like myself – well, thoroughly recovered from the festive season, rested, refreshed and looking forward to a new and hopefully exciting fun-packed, adventure-filled year ahead of us!


The closure of 2016 bought with it exciting news that our mortgage had been finalised at last on our new home, which we’d previously been privately renting, in Cheshire (having previously relocated from Leicestershire).  Now you might be thinking ‘what exactly has this got to do with my Blogging as a wildlife artist?  Let me explain …  Since my relocation to Cheshire I have, for the past months, been having to work out of two temporary studios – one being our conservatory and number two being our spare upstairs room having been unable to physically move my original studio from one county to the next.  However I’m at last so pleased to say that my days of going back and forth between these two ‘perfectly fine for now’ locations in our home will be gladly phased out over the coming months as our garage transforms from ‘occasional dumping ground and storage overflow’ to ‘custom studio conversion’ … needless to say I’m a little excited – understatement of the year even though we’re only in January lol.

Okay let me get you all up to date since we last chatted (well I chatted and you read) and because I’ve a mind like a sieve no make that a colander it has bigger holes items wont necessarily be in chronological order lol, so here goes:

With many new adventures peeking over the not too distant horizon I thought it to be an ideal time to create a new logo for myself and so set about the time consuming task, with only Skye my constant canine companion and a copious amount of coffee keeping me company.  Six hours later and with a rumbling tummy the task was complete and my new logo was born.  And all of this just in time for my second meeting with the Managing Director and Visitor Services Manager of Knowsley Safari Park here in Cheshire …  A day that I’ll not easily forget or want to for that matter, for as far as meetings go it was perfect and the outcome even better after having been referred to as the resident artist (their words not mine lol).  Well it all sounds grand doesn’t it until you realise that there isn’t anything set up there at all yet and that the reins controlling this venture lie in my hands alone.  Daunting yes, mind boggling yes, exciting oh YES!!!  Never being one not to have a go, and knowing that nothing happens on it’s own I’m jumping in at the deep end …. but with armbands of market research holding me afloat lol.  This baby will either sink or swim but as I don’t intend to call her Titanic I just might be onto a winner so watch this space lol …


When I last chatted with you I was in fact about to commence a private commission of a Welsh Collie named Minnie, well I’m pleased to say that the commission was completed ahead of time and delivered to a very satisfied customer in North Wales.

The commission that is now on my easel is for my latest client … the one and only Chris Packham!  Due to the subject matter the actual painting itself has to be kept under wraps so to speak but Chris is more than happy for you to know that he values my work a great deal and I in turn feel very honoured that from the vast array of artists that he knows he chose me to create this specific painting for him.  However I must admit that not being able to share this particular work in progress does make me feel like a secret agent lol. As soon as Chris has his finished painting, and that shouldn’t be too long now, I’ll be able to share it with the rest of the world and hopefully you’ll have found it worth waiting for 😉

With this new commission on my easel other works for mere mortals such as myself, only kidding, have had to stay in the wings for the time being.  I was hoping that by now I’d have more work on the Sumatran Tiger and Wolves paintings but at alas it isn’t meant to be just yet:

lionsRest assured, as I do, as soon as Chris’s commission is complete the wolves project will be back on my easel and worked to completion much to the ‘about time’ of three clients whom have already reserved the first batch of limited edition prints to be taken from this painting.


Another ‘possible adventure happening in the not too distant future’ that appeared over the horizon just before Christmas was this: I received a phone call completely out of the blue from a dear friend whom I’ve known for around 9 years but hadn’t spoken to in a while.  After the normal hello’s and how are you’s there was a pause and a chuckle (from his end not mine) and then a cascade of words that were music to my ears …. I thought that would wake you up during my ramblings lol. Well to cut a long story, and an even longer conversation, short the outcome of our conversation was indeed a positive one – my friend (I’ll be able to share more details later) is in the process of setting up a new business and would like me onboard too.  He currently runs photographic tours to his two favourite places in the world Botswana and Estonia but intends to branch out further to include art safaris hence his phone call to me!  Needless to say I agreed that I’d love to accept his offer (once I’d picked myself up off the floor that is lol). So now, for me at least, it’s a waiting game while the new business’ website gets built and the cogs begin to turn.  So yet again more news on this next time…

More news coming in next Blog but here’s a taster:

I’ll be taking my Knowsley Safari Park market research work into Knowsley Safari Park itself as part of stage one in creating an art-based catalogue of events there …. *  Art journal months one and two…

  • January will still hopefully be seeing the launch of my YouTube channel…
  • February sees the start of my Wildlife 2017 Workshops in Leicestershire and an additional one running in Northants the week after …
  • March sees the birth of another new venture I’ve been asked to create this time at Chester Zoo – Under the umbrella title of Chester’s ‘Bloom Campaign – engaging people with wildlife on a local level‘  I’ll be running ‘Watercolour Wildlife’ workshops…
  • And April sees me take my Wildlife Workshops to Bedfordshire
  • Oh yes and before I forget I’ve also been asked to tattoo someone!  Lol so more news on that too next time ?
  • Plus I may have more news on Botswana and Estonia by then …

May I take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to those of you who’ve been taking the time to correspond with me with not only encouraging words regarding my Blog but my work too – all comments are truly appreciated.

Okay I think it’s time to wrap this Blog up for today as I need to go and get creative and I’m sure you’ve had enough of my ramblings for one day lol…

If you would like me to add anything in particular to these Blogs on Wildfoot Travel’s website then please do feel free to let me know and I’ll see what I can do.  You can contact me via email at  [email protected]

Well it’s over and out from me for now
Be blessed and thank you once again for following my endeavours.
Looking forward to chatting with you all again soon
Love & peace, Kerry xXx

Close Encounters Of The Furry Kind

WILDFOOT has partnered with the renowned wildlife artist Kerry Newell, who has travelled the globe capturing breathtaking images of wildlife, from tigers and wolves to whales and hummingbirds, before bringing them to life on the canvas.

She has also worked with another one of our partners, the Namibia-based AfriCat Foundation, the leading conservation organisation striving to protect the cheetahs and other big cats of Africa.

Kerry is also happy to paint commission pieces – one of her big-name clients has been Chris Packham, the well-known TV nature presenter.

Kerry writes a regular blog about her adventures meeting these animals and her creative process, which we are proud to share with you.

WILDFOOT provides a wide variety of itineraries to Namibia, which includes the majestic cheetahs of AfriCat. Click through to look at just one of the many itineraries that we have available, or call us to talk to one of our friendly staff team.


First and foremost may I take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to Simon and John at Wildfoot for inviting me to become part of their online team, requesting the contribution of a monthly blog highlighting my ‘close encounters of the furry kind’, or to be more precise my challenges, happy accidents, thoughts and methodology that form the framework of my life as a professional wildlife artist.

Okay here goes –

Working from home as I do I’m always in a battle of ‘time-allocation awareness’ or to put it more bluntly ‘what to do next, when and where to do it and where on earth can I buy 72 hour days from…’. Yep juggling time is a daily task that we’re all aware of so I start my day with a caffeine-based breakfast and today was no exception.

blog-pic-1On Saturday (1st Oct) I was invited to be part of a ‘Culture & Community’ day at our local library here in Widnes, Cheshire. This event was a sure way in which I could exhibit and demonstrate to the general public, whilst publicising my work and networking at the same time (multi-tasking at it’s best). Well as the saying goes ‘best laid plans go to waste’, and although those that know me well would say they’re not surprised, the day resulted in my doing a lot more talking than demonstrating for visitors seemed more interested in seeing my completed paintings and hearing the stories behind the creation of each of them than in the creative process itself. Hence my Sumatran Tiger will have to wait his turn before finding himself on my studio easel … for the next few days anyway, but once begun I’ll be sure to post ‘work in progress’ images so that you can follow the creation of this painting in particular from start to finish.

With my most recent commissioned painting being completed just last Friday and collected on the same day by a very grateful very satisfied client, this week will see the start of my next private commission. A portrait of a much loved Welsh Collie. This booking was secured a couple of weeks ago and followed in quick succession by an array of 83 images from which my job was to initially compose an eye-catching composition whilst still maintaining the individual identity of the subject involved. This composition agreed on with the client I’m now looking forward to getting this one onto my easel this coming Thursday/Friday. As with the above Sumatran Tiger I’ll be sure to post images of this ‘work in progress’ as it evolves for those of you who may be interested in seeing the process from start to finish.

Now I’m not joking when requiring days with more than the allotted 24hrs as time really does seem to fly when your having fun so much so that ‘quality studio time’ feels more like time travel some days … And deliberately not having a clock in my studio becomes somewhat meaningless when you have the radio on as announcers seem to feel compelled to give you the time of day every 10 – 15 minutes. So with this in mind a couple of hours this morning spent on my wolves went by in the blink of an eye. For the next few weeks this painting will most certainly be worked alongside my latest commission for the first limited edition print from this painting has already been reserved and paid for … nothing like a little pressure to kick start you in the mornings.

I do have a few other paintings waiting in the wings so to speak, some that are nearly finished whilst others are initial sketches some with base coats applied. All of these will be worked in turn to completion but always with private commissions coming first … this can slow things down somewhat but I only have one pair of hands and the 72hr days still evade me.

So hoping that you now have a rough idea of who I am and an inkling of what I do I’ll ask you to time travel forward to the beginning of next week, Monday 10th October to be exact, to tie up and end today’s blog post:

For Monday 10th October is set to be an exciting day for me a I meet for a second time with the director and managers of Knowsley Safari Park after having been invited in to create from scratch a complete programme of art-based events there. This will be a huge undertaking for myself but one that I truly look forward to. Knowing that I hold the reigns for this project is a true privilege, and this my friends is an adventure that you can share with me right from the beginning …

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

Looking forward to chatting with you all again soon.

Be blessed Kerry xXx