BBOWT Nature Photography Competition 2023

Karen Neville

GG Wildlife experiences

This year’s competition has opened with new categories and great prizes

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) has opened its annual nature photography competition for 2023 with a host of new categories and prizes.

The charity is inviting nature lovers of all ages to send their shots of animals, plants, people and scenery at BBOWT nature reserves and in the community.

Anyone from a six-year-old with a camera phone to a seasoned professional can enter the contest which this year has new categories for pictures of plants, fungi, insects, mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. There is also a new category just for Urban Nature.

This year’s prizes include a top-of-the-range digital camera, an exclusive wildlife photography masterclass, and a high-quality canvas print of your winning photo. All winners will have their photo featured in the Trust’s 2024 calendar.

Rachel Levis, BBOWT Head of Events, said: “We’re so excited to be launching the contest again with these new wildlife categories. Last year we had so many fantastic photos of plants, animals and fungi at BBOWT nature reserves, and this year we really wanted a chance to celebrate all those ways of capturing our wonderful wildlife at its finest.

“I’m also really excited to be launching our Urban Nature category: as we’ve come to realise in recent years that we are in a nature and climate crisis, it’s also become clear that the solution has to be more nature everywhere – and that means looking after wildlife in our towns and cities as well. This category offers a brilliant chance to showcase and celebrate the species that are right under our noses – pollinating our window boxes, nesting under rooves and living in our gardens: these species can be just as important as the wildlife at nature reserves.”


All photographs must be taken on a BBOWT nature reserve except in the Team Wilder, Urban Nature, Children and Teens categories which must be taken in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire or Oxfordshire.

Children (ages 6-11) – Photos matching any of the categories below
Teens (ages 12-17) – Photos matching any of the categories below.
• Flora
• Fungi
• Insects and Arachnids
• Birds
• Mammals
• Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
• Nature reserve Landscapes

Team Wilder – People are stepping forward from every sector of society to lead change in their fields and we welcome businesses, schools, politicians, and individuals as part of Team Wilder. If you’re taking action for nature right now, no matter how small the act is, you’re already a part of #teamWILDER. Send us your photos and show us what you are working on or have achieved already.
People in Nature
Urban Nature – Wildlife or nature in towns, cities and other urban settings.

Closing date for entries is Friday 1 September 2023.


This year’s overall winner will receive:

• A top-of-the-range digital camera
• Photography workshop with wildlife photographer Steve Gozdz from GG Wildlife Experiences
• A high-quality A3 canvas print of your winning photo
• Your photo featured in the 2024 BBOWT calendar
• Certificate

Category winners will receive:

• Photography workshop with wildlife photographer Steve Gozdz from GG Wildlife Experiences
• Your photo featured in the 2024 BBOWT calendar
• A BBOWT cafe voucher
• Certificate

The Children and Teen categories also have an additional prize: a bundle of nature books which will go to the school library of the winner (or to a school the winner nominates).

This year’s competition will be judged by a panel of three experts: Steve Gozdz is a professional wildlife photographer and founder of Berkshire-based GG Wildlife Experiences, which offers wildlife walks, experiences and photography classes; Ben Vanheems is the editor of BBOWT’s Wild Magazine and a wildlife gardener and Youtuber, and Lis Speight is BBOWT‘s head of communications.

Commenting on what he will be looking for in this year’s entries, Steve Gozdz said: “A great photo makes good use of light, composition and shows creativity. However, most importantly, I will be looking for images that capture ‘the moment’ that encompasses the beauty and essence of the subject matter of the environment.

“You don’t need a fancy camera: even a smart phone can produce some amazing images and give some very different perspectives. Don’t forget – the best camera you can have is the one in your hand.”

Need some inspiration?

Here are last years winners and runners up.

Teenagers Winner – Zachery Osbourne
Teenagers Runner Up – Lucy Colston
Team Wilder Winner – Helen Touchard-Paxton
Team Wilder Runner up – Peter Massam
People Winner – Peter Mohr
People Runner Up – Lorraine Clarke
Flora and Fauna Winner – Roy McDonald
Flora and Fauna Runner Up – Adrianna Bielobradek
Children Winner – Roly Lewis
Children Runner Up – Hayden Denham

The Trust is extremely grateful to GG Wildlife Experiences for sponsoring this year’s competition.

For full details and to enter, go to BBOWT Photography Competition 2023

Shooting stars in wildlife photo competition

Round & About

GG Wildlife experiences

Well done to all the wildlife lovers who took part in the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) competition who snapped some beautiful sights at local nature reserves and green spaces and showed how nature can help our mental health

Winning entries include this stunning shot of a buzzard in flight, this pin-sharp picture of a tiny shield bug emerging from a garden flower and a portrait of a pensive kingfisher.

The winner of this year’s children’s category was eight-year-old Roly Lewis from Oxford. The North Hinksey Primary School pupil took his fantastic photo of a shield bug, poking its head out of a flower in his own front garden.

Roly said: “I wanted to enter the competition, so I took lots of wildlife pictures all spring and summer. I thought this photo was my best one because the blossom was a nice background, and the shield bug had an amazing colour and pattern. This made me look closely at shield bugs which are really amazing. My mum told me I had won when I came out of school, and I was so excited I jumped up and down. I really wanted to win but I thought there would be so many good photos that I wouldn’t.”

Children Winner – Roly Lewis (8) (Sheildbug)
Children Runner Up – Hayden Denham (7) (Hummingbird Hawkmoth)

The Wildlife Trust restarted its popular photo competition this summer after a three-year break because of the pandemic. The charity, which manages more than 80 nature reserves across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, challenged everyone aged six and over to take fantastic photos of plants, animals and fungi at its sites, or to capture action for wildlife in their local area.

Roy McDonald took first place with his crystal-clear shot of a buzzard in mid-air at the Trust’s College Lake reserve near Tring. The 45-year-old former courier driver from Berkhamstead revealed after winning the contest that he has struggled with his mental health for some years, and that wildlife photography had helped. He said: “Nature helps me so much, it’s honest and calming and it doesn’t judge you, and just sometimes, if you are calm and patient, it will allow you to get up close into their world. I always take great pleasure when a creature trusts you enough to not scurry or fly away. But you don’t have to take photos: just being in nature and observing it can give you something to focus on.

“I had my encounter with a majestic buzzard on a cold and beautiful winter day. I had seconds to react once I spotted it, and just as my focus locked on, it spotted me and flew directly across my path. So close to me. I chose the first image of the sequence because it had the most amount of action and sense of place. It is by far and away the best shot of a buzzard I have ever managed. They have eluded me for years. I’m quite stunned and delighted to have won.”

Flora and fauna Winner (and overall winner) – Ray McDonald (buzzard in flight) taken at College Lake
Flora and fauna Runner Up – Adrianna Bielobradek (Poppy seedhead) taken at Buckleberry Common)

As overall winner, Mr McDonald won a top-of-the-range Panasonic Lumix digital camera and a wildlife photography masterclass. As well as receiving a printed canvas of his picture and having it appear in BBOWT’s 2023 calendar.

This year’s contest had six new categories: flora and fauna; nature reserve landscapes; people in nature; children’s category (ages 6-12), teenagers (ages 13-19) and Team Wilder, for shots of action for nature in the community. Helen Touchard-Paxton, a mum who lives Buckinghamshire, won the Team Wilder category with a snap of a frog in a garden pond that she and her family dug during the coronavirus lockdown.

She said: “I believe this photo shows that you don’t need acres of land to create a successful wildlife area: if you are interested – no matter how small your space – just have a go and see what works. I don’t have high-end expensive equipment, and I have no idea how to use photo editing software – the photo is very much ‘as taken’. I was absolutely amazed to have won the Team Wilder category.”

Team Wilder Winner – Helen Touchard-Paxton (frog)
Team Wilder Runner Up – Peter Massam (bug hotel)

The Trust received hundreds of entries, creating an extremely difficult job for this year’s judges. BBOWT communications officer Kate Titford, Trust magazine editor Ben Vanheems and professional photographer Steve Gozdz, who runs local nature safaris in Berkshire through his business GG Wildlife Experiences.

Teenagers Winner – Zachary Osbourne (14) Kingfisher
Teenagers Runner Up – Lucy Colston (17) (marbled white on scabious)

Mr Vanheems said: “It’s been a really laborious process with lots of debate going on because we want to get it right, but the competition entrants haven’t exactly made it easy for us.”

People in Nature Winner – Petra Mohr (girl on decking) taken at Weston Turville Reservior
People in Nature Runner Up – Lorraine Clarke (man in hide) taken at College Lake

Mr Gozdz added: “What I was looking for was composition, good use of light – an action shot would have been fantastic. What we’ve found is something quite stunning. A real in-the-moment shot with perfect angles and perfect light, and actually something I would have been very happy to have taken myself. In fact, when I first saw it I was quite jealous.”

Landscape Winner – Charlotte Day (sunrise landscape) taken at Cholsey Marsh
Landscape Runner Up – John Kearns (Warburg trees) taken at Warburg
The trust is grateful to GG Wildlife Experiences, Panasonic and Chroma for sponsoring this year’s competition.