There’s always life in an old boot

An entry in the British Wildlife Photography Awards, by Simon Roy
An entry in the British Wildlife Photography Awards, by Simon Roy
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THE vole lifts its head, whiskers quivering for any sign of trouble.

Using an old boot for cover it is waiting its chance to grab scraps which have fallen from a bird feeder.

The striking image by Simon Roy, which goes on display tomorrow at Nunnington Hall, was among those to catch the eye of the judges of the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2013.

The competition, which covers 14 categories, aims to celebrate British wildlife and raise awareness about biodiversity, species and habitats.

Although it appears entirely natural, Mr Roy’s highly commended image took a couple of months to set up and involved cutting a hole out of the boot and placing it over the tunnel from where the voles would emerge to get scraps. He then waited patiently for the creatures to get used to the sound of his camera shutter.

Mr Roy, from Long Marston, near York, said: “As soon as they heard any panic from any other animal the voles would disappear, but eventually they became settled and I’d know that between 11am and noon that they would come out of the hole.

“Any wildlife photographer will tell you that the best shots are the most natural ones where the wildlife is not scared, either because they don’t know you are there or as in this situation where they are used to you and don’t consider you a threat.”

The exhibition of 100 images and video, including winning and commended entries, will be shown at Nunnington Hall until May 11. This year’s winner, scooping the £5,000 prize, was George Karbus from County Clare, Ireland, with his image of a dolphin surfing in the waves. Mr Karbus said: “Each time the dolphin got into the wave, I dived underneath, held my breath and waited for the moment when he would swish through a silver barrel close enough to my lens. Water visibility is always very limited in Ireland and I was very lucky to get a shot like this.”

Prizes were also awarded for two junior categories, with eight-year-old Liam Constantine, from Hull, winning the award for a photograph by a youngster under 12, for his picture of a brown hare.

TV presenter Chris Packham said: “These stunning images by so many talented photographers highlight the diversity, breadth and beauty of our precious wildlife and the need to protect their habitats. Anything that raises the public’s awareness of the importance to conserve and protect British wildlife is very close to my heart and these awards afford a spectacular insight into the habitat and behaviour of our British wildlife.

“From blue tits to badgers, never has British wildlife looked more beautiful.”

This year’s competition is open for entries until May 3. The winners will be announced in September.