The British Wildlife Photography Awards: The stories behind the winning entries

Daniel Trim

The wealth and diversity of Britain’s natural history is cause for celebration, as the British Wildlife Photography Awards testifies. We bring you a selection of this year’s winning entries


The British Wildlife Photography Awards (BWPA) was established in 2009 and has two main aims: to acknowledge the huge talents of photographers practising in Britain, and to highlight the wealth and diversity of our natural history.

Our densely populated island has an impressive range of habitats, from moorland and forests to hedgerows and limestone pavements. These environments support a rich variety of wildlife, from hares and puffins to badgers and foxes. Much of this wildlife is accessible to us, as long as we are prepared to show respect for the animals we encounter.

This year a picture of a pied wagtail roosting at Heathrow airport won Daniel Trim the overall title, while Peter Cairns was first in the Documentary Series category with his series showing red squirrels being relocated to forests in the Scottish Highlands, where they have been absent for decades.

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Take a look below for our gallery of some of the winning entries in the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2017.

Pied wagtail, (Motacilla alba), Heathrow Terminal 5, London. Canon EOS 5Ds, 500mm f/4 L IS USM lens, 1/160sec at f/4, ISO 2500. Credit: Daniel Trim Daniel Trim

Daniel Trim – Heathrow Roostings

Overall British Wildlife Photography Awards Winner & Urban Wildlife Category Winner

In winter, pied wagtails roost communally in urban areas, both for protection and for the warmth given off by buildings and lights. This extra degree or two can make the difference between life and death in harsh weather. Here, a single individual out of hundreds is silhouetted by the lights of Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport.

Short-eared owl, (Asio flammeus), Farlington, Hampshire. Nikon D5300, 150-600mm, 1/1000sec at f/6.3, ISO 2000. Credit: Matthew Roseveare Matthew Roseveare

Matthew Roseveare – The Golden Hour Hunt

Category Winner – 12-18 Years

As the light began to fade a short-eared owl emerged to hunt for prey above the marshes at Farlington, Hampshire. These birds are commonly seen hunting during the day. Sadly they are of European conservation concern and therefore are an Amber List species. Standing on the sea wall I was amazed when the owl began to fly towards me – it is a moment I will never forget.

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Northern gannet, (Morus bassanus), Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire. Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, EF 70–200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM lens, 1/2500sec at f/8, ISO 640. Credit: Caron Steele Caron Steele

Caron Steele – Emergence

Coast and Marine – Category Winner

Having seen many diving gannet photographs, I wanted to try to capture something a bit different. I watched the birds fishing and was fascinated by the way the gannets would emerge from nowhere to steal another bird’s prey. I was keen to capture the moment just before they broke the surface, while they were still in ‘stealth mode’. A combination of bright sunshine and cloud made setting the exposure difficult, but the result has some lovely patterns on the water.

Eurasian badger, (Meles meles) Derbyshire. Nikon D4s, 200-400mm f/4 VR lens, 1/200sec at f/4, ISO 1600. Credit: Andrew Parkinson Andrew Parkinson

Andrew Parkinson – Crepuscular Contentment

Animal Behaviour – Category Winner

In 15 years of working with badgers I have never seen one sit out in the open to scratch. I was concealed by a tree and downwind so it was especially nice that the badger had his back to me, demonstrating how inconspicuous and inconsequential my presence was.

Green hydras, (Hydra viridissima), Derbyshire. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, MP-E 65mm macro lens, 1/160sec at f/9, ISO 100. Credit: Alex Hyde Alex Hyde

Alex Hyde – Green Hydras

Hidden Britain Category Winner

The diversity of life in my small garden pond never ceases to amaze me, but many of the most fascinating subjects require high magnification to be appreciated. Measuring only a few millimetres in length, these green hydras were dangling from the underside of a lily pad. They capture prey with stinging tentacles and when disturbed they quickly retract into a small, compact green blob that is easily overlooked.

Atlantic gannet, (Morus bassanus) Isle of Noss, Shetland Islands. Olympus E-3, 300mm f/2.8 lens, 1/100sec at f/7.1, ISO 200, fill flash. Credit: Melvin Redeker Melvin Redeker

Melvin Redeker – Natural Beauty

Animal Portraits – Category Winner

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, what do these eyes tell you? Looking for a different perspective for a gannet portrait, I positioned myself on top of the cliffs on the Isle of Noss in the Shetland Islands. Looking straight down I had an intimate view of a group of gannets sitting on a higher ledge. I talked to them and one gannet looked up, revealing its rounded head, symmetry and beautiful blue eyes against its white feathers.

Silver birch, (Betula pendula) Bolehill Quarry, Peak District National Park, Derbyshire. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens, 1/80sec at f/8, ISO 100. Credit: Francis Taylor Francie Taylor

Francis Taylor – A Magical Morning

Wild Woods – Category Winner

Thick fog drifted through the eerie silver birches at Bolehill Quarry in the Peak District National Park, creating a magical morning of atmospheric light.

Wren, (Troglodytidae) Dunham Massey, Cheshire. Canon EOS-1D X, 500mm f/4 L IS lens, 1/800sec at f/6.3, ISO 2000. Credit: Ben Hall Ben Hall

Ben Hall – Wren on Frost- Encrusted Fern

Habitat – Category Winner

Following a cold, clear night I visited local woodland to photograph deer. The temperature had dropped well below freezing during the night and on arrival frost clung to the trees and foliage, completely transforming the landscape. A heavy mist hung in the air, making the deer difficult to spot. After some time I noticed a wren flitting around in the frost-encrusted ferns. I set up my tripod and waited, following the bird with my lens as it moved. Eventually, it alighted on top of a fern close by and I inched my way back in an attempt to show the wren in its environment.

Common reed, (Phragmites australis) Lindow Common, Wilmslow, Cheshire. Pentax K-5 IIs, SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm f/4 ED [IF] SDM lens, 1/500sec at f/8, ISO 800. Credit: Steve Palmer Steve Palmer

Steve Palmer – Reeds

Botanical Britain – Category Winner

I’d always been fascinated by the almost abstract patterns and reflections of these common reeds, but the conditions had never been perfect, despite numerous visits. However, on this morning the water was still and the light was soft and I was able to capture the image I was after.

Brown-lipped snail, (Cepaea nemoralis) Thetford Forest, Norfolk. Panasonic Lumix G7, Lumix G Vario 14-140mm lens, 1/250sec at f/5.6, ISO 800. Credit: Paula Cooper Paula Cooper

Paula Cooper – Web of Life

British Nature in Black and White – Category Winner

I took this on a very misty day in Thetford Forest. It was too misty to photograph the trees so I tried looking for something closer up; I spotted this little snail making its way up a plant stem. I was lucky that at the moment I took this image the snail looked up towards the spider web.

Atlantic puffin, (Fratercula arctica) Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire. Nikon D5300, 70-300mm, 1/1250sec at f/6.3, ISO 1600. Credit: Oliver Teasdale Oliver Teasdale

Oliver Teasdale – Puffin in a Hole

Under 12 Years – Category Winner

I took this photo while I was visiting Skokholm with my dad. We were hoping to see and photograph puffins, and although there weren’t many, I was lucky enough to be sat by a side window of one of the hides when this little puffin poked its head out of a burrow. This is my favourite shot from the sequence as the puffin is hidden by the sea campion growing at the entrance to the burrow.

Amateur Photographer

Winning and commended entries will be showcased in a touring exhibition and appear in the book British Wildlife Photography Awards 8. Published by ammonite Press, £25. ISBN 978-1-78145- 319-3. Available online and from all good bookshops. To find out more, visit www.bwpawards.org.

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