British Wildlife Photography Awards 2019: Astonishing picture of hunting grey heron wins annual prize

Laura Sharman
Rich Bunce/SWNS

A plaice with a face only a mother could love along with a slumbering hedgehog and Narnia-like fields blanketed in snow are among the images showcased in this year's British Wildlife Photography Awards.

Thousands of entries from professional and amateur photographers were submitted across 15 different categories celebrating the beauty and diversity of British wildlife.

The overall winning photograph that took the £5,000 top prize is of a grey heron hunting for fish in the cover of a bridge, taken by London photographer Daniel Trim.

The image, titled Behind Bars, captures the morning light shining through a mesh fence as the heron lies in wait, giving the impression the bird is trapped as it gazes out through the mesh.

Among the other winning images was a glittering stalked jellyfish and illuminated sea snail taken by Paul Petitt in Dorset, England who was awarded first place in the Coast and Marine England category.

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Other winners and runners up included a spider in a back garden, a swift skimming the water for insects and a picture of a razorbill by 10 year old Ollie Teasdale, who won the under 12s category.

One of the judges, zoologist, writer and photographer Mark Carwardine said: “Who needs penguins or polar bears when we have puffins and badgers?

“With so many photographers scouring the globe for exotic megafauna, it’s easy to forget how much wildlife we have in our own small and densely populated backyard.

“Just look up from behind your desk, the kitchen sink or inside your car and the chances are you will see a wild creature of one kind or another.

“A red fox running across a field, a blue tit on the bird table, or a red kite over the motorway.

“We are very fortunate in having an outstanding biodiversity in this country so it’s not surprising that British Wildlife Photography Awards has become one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the wildlife photography calendar.”

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To mark its tenth anniversary, the 2019 awards have expanded the Coast and Marine category to include British and Irish coastlines within four separate categories including England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Irish coast.

It is hoped the expansion will help raise awareness about the British coast, its incredible biodiversity and the threats it is facing.

Mark, who also works an environmentalist, added: “This year, BWPA celebrates its tenth anniversary and I am delighted that it is marking the occasion by focusing on British coasts.

“Our island nation has an impressive 31,368 kilometres of coastline.

“We are surrounded by some of the richest seas in the world, teeming with an astonishing abundance and diversity of marine wildlife.

“We provide a home for about eight million breeding seabirds, a wide variety of cetaceans and everything from otters and grey seals to basking sharks and white-tailed eagles.

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“Indeed, there are estimated to be 15,000 marine species living in UK seas altogether.

“But we do a shockingly bad job of looking after them. We take out far too many fish and shellfish, often catching them in destructive ways that have devastating impacts on other wildlife, and we use the seas as a dumping ground for an insidious tide of plastic waste and all sorts of other pollution.

“Add to that threats from rising sea temperatures, oil and gas exploration and extraction, and coastal development, and it’s not really surprising that we are losing our marine wildlife like never before.”

The awards also include junior categories to encourage young people to connect with nature through photography.

An exhibition tour launches on Tuesday and will run throughout the UK until July next year.

SWNS

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Read more The best photos from Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019