Several months ago I received an email informing me that I was to be awarded a highly commended in the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the year. Last Friday the results were finally announced so I traveled to Lünen in Germany to attend the awards.
Every time you enter a major competition like this you never know what effect your images will have on the judges. This year my Crested Guan from Costa Rica seemed to have worked in provoking a reaction. They even liked it enough to print it on the front cover of the book!!
I have always admired the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year as the winning selection are generally more artistic/creative than many of the other big wildlife photography competitions to which I find a refreshing change.
It was a great weekend and I met some fantastic people who I hope to see again in the future.
This strange pom-pom like growth, which forms on the branches of wild rose, is actually the work of a tiny wasp (Dipoloepis rosae). The ‘gall’ contains multiple chambers where the larvae of the wasp will develope before emerging the following spring. The gall provides a perfect home for the tiny wasp larvae during the winter months.
Last week I was in Arne, Dorset to photograph these amazing spiders. I always liked how they varied some much in size and colour. I photographed them using my field studio at the side of the pond where they can be found.
Earlier this year I visited florida again. It is starting to feel like a second home despite being there for only two week out of a year. I came across some amazing people both local and foreign. It really makes the difference to a trip when you can meet such friendly people especially with a common interest.
Photographic oppertunities were few and far between at times, which pushed me to visit new places. Some of which I will be sure to visit again.
Here are a few favourites from my trip, I hope you like them too.
As the winter months close in, the wildlife in my garden is becoming more scarce, however the vole population is booming as always. I still continue to document the same creatures such as the common frog, I find that they vary so much in size and colouration, making each one different from the last.
This southern hawker was a visitor to the newly built pond and also became the first of its species to appear on my field studio.
Since starting the study of my garden I have wanted to photograph a shrew with my field studio. Unlike the other mammals in my garden the common shrew is very elusive. I was once fortunate to come across a nest containing a litter of common shrews, but these types of situations are best left undisturbed.
I found this shrew (pictured below) under one the boards that I placed down in the paddock. The image does not show size but I can tell you it was only around 5cm long (body only), so very small.
Its long pointed nose and tiny eyes makes the shrew stand out from other mammals such as voles and mice. Their short life-span means that it is uncommon for them to live for more than 12 months. Their diet consists of mainly insects but they will also eat slugs, snails and earthworms.
The common shrew can be found widespread throughout Britain and comes in at second place in being the most numerous Mammal in Britain.
Its amazing how much wildlife you can encourage into your garden just by letting it grow naturally. Up until a few years ago we used to mow this paddock several times a year. Today many would see it as field of weeds but to me its a wildlife haven. I included the barn in the image below, as it is also an important part of the habitat. Lots of insects and spiders benefit from the red brick walls that warm up in the sun throughout the day. Some of my best findings have been discovered around the edge of the building making it an important area of my study.
The area of study: Paddock
Various species of arachnids living in the paddock
In order to encourage particular wildlife, I laid down six chip board panels amongst the grass. The panels provide a whole host of wildlife with shelter and in some cases a home. The boards warm up nicely in the sun which the snakes particularly benefit from.
A litter of bank voles in a nest under one of the panels
Within a week of putting down the panels, I had mice, voles, shrews and grass snakes living underneath them. Over the course of the summer I have lost count of the number of nesting voles that I have encountered under the boards.
The population of bank voles in the paddock is booming. Everywhere I look I find new nests. If you just sit and listen your can hear squeaking and rustling coming from within the long grass. Amazingly, bank voles become sexually mature at just five weeks old. Female bank voles can produce up to four or five litters a year which explains the numbers found within my paddock.
I have been documenting the bank voles with the aid of my field studio to create ‘Meet Your Neighbours’ style images.
With confirmation from WPOTY (Wildlife Photographer of the Year) that I have been unsuccessful with this years competition, I thought I would share my shortlisted entries. To my surprise, eight out of my twenty submitted images were selected for the final round of judging. Thinking this has to be too good to be true (which it was) I thought nothing of it. Lets face it, a dead fish or a slow-worm on a rock is hardly going to take rank up against flying penguins or fighting tigers (to name a few) but you never know.
In the words of Liam Marsh “If it was easy to win, it wouldn’t be worth entering!”