Interview: Adam L. Canning

A short introduction

Adam L. Canning is a reasonably young wildlife filmmaker and tv presenter, from the southern fringes of Birmingham, who has wanted to share his passion and love for the natural world since he was sixteen years old, by making and fronting natural history productions. He recently co-produced and co-presented a TV series called The Wild Side, showcasing the wildlife and its conservation in and around Cambridgeshire (broadcast on Cambridge TV), featuring women who volunteer and also work in that sector. Adam is now twenty-seven years young and dreams of working with the BBC’s Natural History Unit. 

What are your earliest memories of your passion for nature?

This is an honest answer to anybody who asks me this question;
I have loved nature since I was a baby – since I could see, crawl, begin to talk and walk. I’m unsure which of the latter two came first, walking or talking, I’ll have to ask my mum, aha!   

My grandmother (on my mother’s side), or ‘Nanny Ó Brien’ as I called her, thoroughly encouraged my love of wildlife, gifting me a wrapped shoebox full of animal figures/toys, on one of my birthdays. This became my ‘shoebox zoo’ and it contained many native British animal toys. She used to take my sisters, cousins and me, all to the Lickey Hills Country Park – made famous by J.R.R. Tolkien and once owned by the Cadbury’s Chocolate family – we would go most half-terms from primary school and explored for a few hours, passing through the heather and bilberries, plus playing in the great expanse of ancient woodland, containing the odd veteran tree, to be climbed of course. Sadly, my beloved nan died of a heart-attack when I was approximately 6 years old. Thankfully, my mum & dad often stopped to point out the natural wonders, whenever we were out and about – especially my dad, during our walks around the Waseley Hills Country Park – birds, fungi, plants, amphibians and mammals – feeding my fascination, pretty much for my entire childhood.

The first weasel I ever saw was up the Waseley Hills, whilst I was still a little boy, it scurried out in front of me, the Waseley’s has a rich variety of habitats and it is my favourite country park. It is these wonderful encounters which stoke the passion, within my soul, for nature. I remember the weasel passing right in front of my shoes! It’s fur catching the sunlight, seeing a bit of its very pale underbelly, I froze in amazement, allowing it to pass by – gracing me with its presence. The reason I recall some animal facts and remember most of these life experiences vividly is because I am on the Autistic Spectrum.

Adam and his sister. Photo by © David Canning-England.

What mammal-related topic has pricked up your ears recently? Can you explain further and whether you think this is relevant to UK mammals and Biodiversity?

Good questions! Well, I’m still excited by the fact that pine martens can be found in Shropshire, which is within the West Midlands region of England! I’m from the West Midlands, so I think you can understand my delight in this fact, yes, it is possible they could have colonised from Wales, but they are English now, aha! Knowing there is a stronghold of these incredible arboreal mustelids, thriving in a pocket of England, is vital for their conservation and of course, in turn, they are increasing the biodiversity of the woodland in which they inhabit, in Shropshire. Personally, my favourite mammal is the only true flying one, Bats!

Photo by Adam L. Canning during a BrumBats Bat survey at Dudley Castle – Dudley, West Midlands. Photos taken under license.

If you had to choose a mammal to film which one would it be? And a person to interview?

This is a tough question to answer… I have just said bats are my favourite species of mammalian… But, my partner Gary and I recently saw a polecat together, so I would choose this mammal to film! It was on a farm in Brownhills, on the border of Walsall and South Staffordshire – this habitat has rabbits and small rodents living within it. It was such a magical encounter, seeing an English European polecat! I instantly knew what it wasn’t, a ‘feral polecat-ferret’, due to its colouration and distinct bandit-band on its face. An elusive, and considerably rare, healthy-looking individual. Again, a mustelid had run out in front of me – but this one stopped! At the time I happened to be rehydrating, aha! I had just gulped some water from a sports bottle – I couldn’t speak, and I didn’t want to spit my water out in excitement, so I made a ‘subdued excited sound’, to get the attention of Gary. Eventually, he looked at what I was making an odd quiet sound at! We both froze and stood staring at this stunning creature – judging by how it didn’t notice us and was stock-still staring into some undergrowth – it was hunting. After a few seconds – which felt like minutes – it scampered off, vanishing into beautifully unkempt edges of the farmland.

Episode 3 of The Wild Side – interviewing Emily Neville about bats! 🦇

Currently, I would love to interview Colin Dann, the author of the enchanting book series The Animals of Farthing Wood, which was adapted into the much-loved animated cartoon series of the same title – shown on the BBC during the early 1990’s. I grew up watching said series, so I have several questions which I’d love to ask Mr Dann.

Birdfair 2011 – Adam reunites Mike Dilger with Bill Oddie & gets a photo.

What advice would you give to a junior wildlife reporter/filmmaker?

Do not be afraid to find your own original path into the industry. Plus, beware of whom you share this masterplan with. We are all in this together, for the same common goal, sharing our passion for the natural world and promoting the conservation of the environment and its wildlife. Thank you.

If you want to find out more about Adam’s work, follow him on:

YouTube: NatureOnScreen

Twitter: @AdamLCanning

Instagram: @AdamLCanning


The Wild Side series:

Facebook: CannedWildlife

Thank you for your time, Adam!


Disclaimer: The views expressed by interviewees do not necessarily reflect those of The Mammal Next Door