As 2020 begins, BBOWT's Mark Bosworth shares the winners of the wildlife trust's annual photo contest

A meadow grasshopper on heather, a painted lady butterfly on a tree stump and a footprint in the mud show the beauty of our local wildlife and the wonder of nature in close-up.

The images are among the prize-winning photographs in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust’s (BBOWT) annual Photography Competition – and are intended to encourage more of us to explore our hidden landscapes this new year,

All the photographs were taken on BBOWT’s nature reserves, and reveal the tranquillity of our natural places.

Ben Wade-Martins from Steeple Aston, near Banbury, was named under 18s winner for his photo of a painted lady butterfly on a tree stump at Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre.

“I was on a photography course, it was rainy and difficult to spot much wildlife, but if you look closely there’s always something interesting to see,” he says.

Ben, along with the other four category winners, received a printed canvas of their winning photo, a certificate, and a photography workshop.

“I am really excited about the workshop because I want to pursue my dream to become a wildlife photographer,” adds Ben.

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John Hailstone’s black and white picture of a fern at C.S. Lewis Nature Reserve in Risinghurst, Oxford, won the Mobile Phone category. John, from Wallingford, first visited the reserve, which is close to Shotover, in 2017, and most of his photos were in colour.

“Black and white seemed somehow appropriate to reveal the structure of the fern,” he says.

“The wildlife photography workshop will be something new and challenging for me as I tend to photograph those aspects of nature, such as trees, which don’t move very quickly!”

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Alan Garnsworthy’s photo of a meadow grasshopper on heather at Crookham Common in Berkshire won the Flora, Fauna and Landscapes category. The image was also judged to be the overall winner of the competition.

“Every August I go to Crookham or Snelsmore, this is a great time to visit as the heather is looking its best and always makes your photos stand out a bit more,” says Alan from Thatcham, Berkshire.

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“Photography is just a hobby at the moment but I’m trying to get into it more seriously, so this a big boost and encourages me to keep going.”

As overall winner Alan won a DSLR camera donated by Panasonic, a printed canvas of his winning photo, a certificate, and a photography workshop with award-winning wildlife photographer Elliott Neep.

“I can’t wait to get started on the workshop with Elliott, this is just what I need to take my photography further.”

Weston Turville Reservoir in Buckinghamshire was the location of Phil Clayton’s winning entry for the People in Wildlife category.

The person in the picture is Phil’s son who is crouching on the jetty, while a boat is moored in the middle of the water.

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“I was surprised and delighted to have won,” says Phil, from Aylesbury, “I really hope that it encourages people to visit places like this and to notice how there can be beauty in the sky and the water whatever the conditions, and how a much loved natural location changes with the light, time of day, season and weather.”

The final category – the Wildcard – was won by Torbjörn Hultmark from Upper Bucklebury in West Berkshire. His photo, footprint in the mud, was taken near his home on Bucklebury Common.

“It was a wet day with plenty of rain thus both the camera and I got thoroughly showered during the hour it took to get the photo the way I wanted it,” he says.

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“I remember wondering at the time how the camera would fare in the rain and if it had any weather sealing to speak of.

“As it turned out it didn’t have any at all and the camera completely ceased up about an hour later incurring a hefty repair bill.

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“I don’t mind too much, however, as nature and photography is something I love. I feel very strongly that we need to take much better care of nature.

“Sharing its beauty with family and friends through photography, and now also with BBOWT readers is an enormous privilege.”