We all agreed the colour of the gorse flower was eye catching and harmonised nicely with the slightly darker honeyed tomes of the bee, perfect placed in the corner of the image with every detail clearly visible.
Marco said: I was visiting a local nature reserve to birdwatch and gather some invertebrate records, and I took a number of photographs to assist with any identification issues (I have a personal no-kill policy, hence the photos). I noticed a number of solitary bees (Andrena haemorrhoa) flying around a particular gorse bush, so stood for a while to get some photos, and see if there was anything else to note in this spot." he adds: " I have a preference to show invertebrates in their natural surroundings, giving a brief glimpse into their short, busy, but incredibly important lives. A second later, the bee had flown again. It's a relatively simple image which I hope does convey this to some extent."
Red stag by Val Gall.
When we awarded Val first place back in October for the Wildlife Theme we said: The red stag is a beautifully balanced, perfectly composed and in focus image. Every hair is visible, the texture of the antlers and the spikiness of the gorse, even the water running down the lifted stepping foreleg which together with the disrupted reflection in the water below all come together to create a sense of movement in what is a quite serene image.
Val was "over the moon to have second place" and says: “I was watching a dipper feeding on the edge of water when I heard splashing to my right. A beautiful red deer stag was walking through water heading straight towards me. A very precious moment”.
Lakeland Summer by John Jones
CJS said this is such an atmospheric image and captures a "typical" Lakeland summers day very well! The photo is beautifully balanced with the walker and collie on either side of the standing stone, both braced against the wind and the distant fells a moody purple.
Bank Vole by Adrian Dangerfield
CJS said: Another great photo, once again in perfect focus from the little paws to every hair and whisker, the russet brown of the vole's fur is somehow made more intense by the bright fallen flowers which also illustrate just how small a creature it is. Adrian says: "the picture wasn’t taken with anything fancy, just my 5 year old Samsung Galaxy Smartphone. I enjoy getting out for walks with my camera but always have my phone with me as a standby. I read somewhere that the best equipment for a photographer is what they have at the time and this was certainly the case."
By a significant margin the clear winner is the lovely daytime pipistrelle by Kim Bliss.
Kim says she's: "happy to share this of a pipistrelle bat I found resting at Tilgate Park, woodland in Crawley, West Sussex. It was a rare find that made my day, especially when he had flown at dusk safely! (I hope!)"
The comments show how much this most unusual sight appeals:
Amazing picture and never seen a bat in the daylight.
The photographer must be very observant to have captured this shot. How wonderful to find a pipistrelle slumbering & looking so comfortable.
Beautiful photograph of a rarely seen bat, In daylight too, very impressive, what a great photographer
The July theme was Hidden Gems and we received some lovely photos from tiny ants and hidden ladybirds to secret views and favourite spots.
However, for once we found the decision quite easy and unanimously agreed that Jon Hayter's wonderful photo of a bat box full of brown long-eared bats was the clear winner. It's a lovely photo with every bat visible, the shine on their fur and even the veins in the wonderful large ears all clearly seen. All given an added feel by the one bat looking straight at the camera almost as if to say, "why are you disturbing us?"
This glorious photo showcases a true hidden gem that only a fortunate few, like licensed bat ecologist Jon, ever get to see.
The June theme was From my Window. We all agreed that this month was the most difficult choice yet, you sent us some amazing photos.
From a shortlist of six we managed to whittle it down to three and then ended up taking a vote which was narrowly won by this lovely photo of a young robin waiting patiently for its turn on the fat feeder which the photographer Adrian Button tells us is just out of shot. Sub Ed Tracey sums up our deliberations: "Just been reconsidering the photos to see if I still come to the same conclusion as I did last night and I do. I kept looking at them and changing my mind! But my favourite is the young robin diner. Every time I looked I liked it better. I think it's the way the bird stands out, framed by colour, especially the contrast of the brightness of its eye."
We paused the competition in March due to the exceptional circumstances brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. When we relaunched the competition in June we changed the remaining themes to make them more appropriate to the current climate on living with coronavirus, lockdown and the 'new normal'.
The February theme was Green, another topic open to interpretation with entries ranging from some lovely green fields, to a windfarm complete with skein of geese.
There was one image that stood out for all of us, this incredible photo of a nesting shag on the Farne Islands NNR taken by Kim Gallagher who says the bird kept "a beady emerald eye on me at all times". It's that emerald eye that really draws you into the beautifully clear photo, with the grassy tussocks in the foreground highlighting the brightness and colour of the watching eye.
The January theme was Seasons, which seemed most appropriate for a new year. As ever we had some fabulous entries and it was lovely on a cold, damp day to be looking at your images of high summer. But it was a winter view that ended up winning this month.
Winner: Winter in the Lakes by Sam Feaster
This incredible photo of "Winter in the Lakes", taken on the top Crag Hill by Sam Feaster.
There was 'just something about' this one that caught every one's eye. The person silhouetted on the edge of the plateau gives the image perspective whilst the billowing cloud in the valley below gives it an otherworldly feel. Capturing the glittering, coldness of snow, especially in bright sunshine without flattening or bleaching the photo takes practice and Sam's managed this and kept the blue, high pressure, winter's sky.
Runner up: Storm Warning by Adrian Button
this shot by Adrian Button of the waves battering Seaham Lighthouse in the early spring gales would have been our winner this month but we felt that it wasn't quite as sharp Sam's Lakes photo. Katie said, "The slight fuzziness does enhance the ferociousness of the storm". We all agreed it was a highly evocative image, and almost (but not quite) our clear winner so we've given second place and a runner's prize to Adrian.
The December theme was 'tools of the trade' which is one of the categories that is more open to interpretation and the photos of the tools you use were all great images capturing work in the countryside. Once again it was another tricky decision but we all agreed the wonderful landscape of Glen Affric complete with tree planting tools by Sandy Davidson was our favourite, as Carla says, "it certainly beats the average office environment".
Sandy says: "The photo was taken in a remote part of Glen Affric where I was working as part of a team planting new native woodland. Typically, winter is the season for tree planting but, by using cell-grown stock, the season can be extended into the summer months. Working on high ground with poor soils we look for 'micro sites' in which to plant appropriate species and ensure that the right tree goes in the right place. This often means we plant in clumps and scattered groups, following patches of better soil, and avoiding areas of deep peat. The result is a more natural-looking woodland such as can be seen on the hillside on the left hand side of the image. The image shows the basic tools required for the job - a planting bag for carrying trees, and a trusty spade for planting them."
Runner up: Standard path building tools by Mark O'Brien
Although we were unanimous in our choice of winner we had to give special mention to this photo from Mark O'Brien who says: "while on the Isle of Tamera on the North West coast of Scotland, I was working on some path building work around one of the old buildings and started my day assessing the tools". It made us all smile - after all a sense of humour is one of the most important 'tools' for anyone planning a careers in the great outdoors!
Mossy stump by Darren Towers
See the full size image here.
The stump is near Loch Ness, Scotland; Darren says: "I thought this looked like a cheeky forest creature with a full head of mossy hair and a subtle face staring out at visitors in the woods!"
The CJS Team agreed with him with Carla saying "When I glanced at it I saw a ‘little bears face’ in the middle and now I can’t not see it!!"
We liked the vibrant colours, the myriad of greens working together to keep it a cool, calm image with great depth.
Red stag walking up a river by Val Gall.
CJS: The red stag is a beautifully balanced, perfectly composed and in focus image. Every hair is visible, the texture of the antlers and the spikiness of the gorse, even the water running down the lifted stepping foreleg which together with the disrupted reflection in the water below all come together to create a sense of movement in what is a quite serene image.
Here to Help by Olivia Masi.
CJS says: Here to Help is the caption Olivia gave her photo of the seal, it's quite easy to believe that is what the BDMLR medic is saying to the seal whose head tilt gives the impression that they're deep in conversation. This is another perfectly focused, nicely composed image with both medic and seal centre stage but neither overshadowing the other.
Ducklings on the Lancaster Canal by John Jones.
The CJS Team say this is a simply a beautiful scene; the depth of this image really appealed to all of us, noticing the duck and ducklings in the foreground before being drawn deeper through the arch of the bridge and on to the water beyond. The bright sunshine illuminating the brilliant greens of the verdant plant life and creating the reflection of the mother duck on the water and highlighting the ripples the little flotilla are making in the otherwise still water. All creating a very pleasing image where the more you look, the more there is to see.
Bothy at Harris on Isle of Rum. The grassland ar Harris glen kept grazed by highland cattle, rum ponies and feral goats, encouraging a variety flowers and plants, such as marsh orchid and pillwort. by Isabelle Miles.
CJS: We liked the contrast of the green machair with the bright blue sky; the shadows of the clouds on the distant hills create a sense of movement. The white walled bothy creates a bright spot drawing your focus which is then led towards the water by the drystone wall. The grazing ponies give the image a hint of the land management being carried out on the Island.
Katie sums it up best: "It’s a simple and yet stunning photo of a beautiful landscape."
Photographer: Laura Hartshorn (18)
Hoverfly : I took this image during a very warm, sunny day while playing with my dog in my garden in Shaw Mills.
CJS: We picked this photo because it's a lovely, in focus, close up of the fly where every hair is visible. The main subject stands out well aginst the flat green background and the yellow flower reflects the insect's colouring all together making a nicely composed image.
Thetford Forest by Tracey Ketteringham
CJS: The sunbeams flooding through the trunks of the pines draw your eye into this image. The golden rays illuminate the subject without detracting from the whole or flattening the overall colour palate.
NB all photos are copyright of the named photographers