Stunning close-up shot of insect crowned winner of annual wildlife photography competition
A stunning close-up shot of an insect face has been crowned the winner of an annual wildlife photography contest.
The extreme close-up of a white-legged damselfly won first prize in the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) 2023 Photography Competition.
The deadly tentacles of a carnivorous plant and the broad smile of a bathing frog are among the other winners.
The contest launched in April with seven new categories for 2023, and nature lovers of all ages were challenged to take pictures at one of BBOWT’s 86 nature reserves or in their community.
The winning shot was taken by Harry Berks, 24, from Sibford Gower near Banbury. Harry said: “I am thrilled and surprised to have won this competition. I consider myself very lucky to be able to visit the amazing BBOWT nature reserves and find such wonderful wildlife.
“Photographing animals can be extremely difficult at times, but the occasions when they let you into their world for even just a moment are extremely special, and I never forget them.
“I took this shot on a sunny summer’s day at my local nature reserve, Lamb’s Pool. Dozens of damselflies were mating around the pool, and young buzzards were scrapping over a mouse.
“After almost 10 minutes of crawling and crouching next to the bank of the pool, I managed to get the angle I wanted and the head in focus. I was amazed the damselfly didn’t move during this time – it must have been feeling cooperative.”
As overall winner, Mr Berks won a top-of-the-range Nikon digital camera and a wildlife photography masterclass, as well as receiving a printed canvas of his picture and the honour of having it appear in BBOWT’s 2024 calendar.
The winner of this year’s Children’s category was nine-year-old Fern Gregory from Oxfordshire, with a pin-sharp picture of a yellow-and-black hoverfly drinking nectar from a pink scabious flower.
She said: “I like to use the camera to take photos of animals. First of all I was taking bird photos, but I had to zoom in so much. The birds kept on flying away or hopping into the leaves and bushes, so I started to take photos of bugs because they don’t move as fast, and I could get close to them.
“I took the photo in my back garden next to the steps where I sit to watch the bees and hoverflies on the pretty scabious flowers. Unexpectedly, I saw a hoverfly drinking nectar with its tongue and I quickly snapped it.
“I am very happy to be a winner and share my photo with everyone. I hope that I helped to raise awareness for nature, even the tiny things we might not give much thought to like the hoverfly.”
Fern, like all category winners, won a wildlife photography masterclass and a certificate and will have her photo feature in BBOWT’s 2024 calendar.
A total of 146 people submitted 454 photographs for this year’s competition.
The winners were painstakingly chosen by this year’s panel of judges comprising Ben Vanheems (BBOWT’s Wild Magazine Editor), Chris Deeney (BBOWT Website & Design Officer), and wildlife photographer Steve Gozdz of GG Wildlife Experiences.
Ben Vanheems said: “The quality of this year’s entries has been exceptional. What I loved was seeing photographs by people clearly passionate about wildlife from all different age groups, especially children and teenagers. It’s been such a joy judging the contest and the entrants gave us a really hard job – thank you to everyone who sent their photos in.”
Steve Gozdz added: “We thought last year was hard, but this year’s been so much harder. What’s blown me away this year is the Insects category – my passion is birds, but this year the insects have just been amazing. We had to deliberate over the winners many times and agreed on a well worthy winner at the end.”
Insects and overall winner: Harry Berks (White-legged damselfly at Lamb’s Pool). Runner-up: Nigel Carter (Roesel’s bush-cricket at Chimney Meadows).
Birds: Darren Prestoe (Dartford warbler at Greenham Common). Runner-up: John Kearns (Juvenile bullfinch at Warburg Nature Reserve).
Mammals: Andrew Kelsick (Bank vole at Warburg Nature Reserve). Runner-up: Jono Mckendry (Hare at Chimney Meadows).
Reptiles, amphibians & fish: Jessica Crumpton (Common frog at Letcombe Valley). Runner-up: Nigel Carter (Common lizard at Bernwood Meadow).
Flora: Paul Olive (Round-leaved sundew at Sole Common Pond). Runner-up: Gill Cornelius (Frosted fronds at Weston Turville Reservoir).
Fungi: Paul Morgan-Russell (Common earthballs at Wildmoor Heath). Runner-up: Tom Dixon (Fruiting body on tree at Wokefield Common).
Children: Fern Gregory (Common banded hoverfly in garden). Runner-up: Evelyn Paveley (Ladybirds on dandelion).
Teens: Anton Poon (Dock bug on blackberry). Runner-up: Anton Poon (Hoverfly on flower).
Nature reserves: Gill Cornelius (Grangelands & The Rifle Range nature reserve). Runner-up: David Brown (College Lake).
People in Nature: Gill Cornelius (Volunteers at Weston Turville Reservoir).
Urban: Danny Kidby-Hunter (Heron silhouetted on water). Runner-up: Denes Dobai (Common frogs with frogspawn).
Team Wilder: Colin Lamb (Hummingbird hawkmoth). Runner-up: Volodymyr Lebediev (bird feeder).
The Trust is extremely grateful to GG Wildlife Experiences and Chroma for sponsoring this year’s competition.