BBOWT Nature Photography Competition 2023

Karen Neville


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


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.

Local photography competition

Liz Nicholls


Berkeley Invites Community to Take Part in Photo Competition Celebrating Nature:

Award-winning local housebuilder Berkeley Homes has launched a photography and drawing competition open to all residents local to the Woodhurst Park development in Warfield for a chance to win a Polaroid instant camera.

The competition aims to celebrate landscapes and nature as the season changes, encouraging families to explore local nature trails and capture what they see.

The winners of the competition will win an Instax or Polaroid instant camera, which will be handed over at a prize ceremony at the Woodhurst Park Sales and Marketing Suite, where the best pictures will be on display for the public to see. Two runners up of each of the three age categories (11 years and under, 12 to 17 years and 18 years and over) will receive a £25 Amazon voucher.

Entries will remain open until Tuesday 16th November and should be submitted to [email protected]. Entries can also be submitted in person to the sales and marketing suite at Woodhurst Park, or on Instagram with the hashtag #StepIntoWHP and by tagging @berkeley_group.

Submissions will be judged by local photographer Karen Bennett and the Berkeley Homes Sales and Marketing Director.

Please note competition terms and conditions below:

  1. The competition is only open to residents of the United Kingdom.
  2. There is no entry fee or purchase necessary to enter this competition.
  3. All entrants under 18 must have permission of a responsible adult over 18.
  4. Only one entry will be accepted per person.
  5. Closing date is the 16th November 2021, after this date no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
  6. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for reasons out of our control.
  7. Berkeley Homes reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice, but any changes to the competition/offer will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
  8. Berkeley Homes is not responsible for inaccurate prize/offer details supplied to entrants by any third party.
  9. The prize is as stated no cash or other alternatives will be offered. Prizes are subject to availability and Berkeley Homes reserves the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
  10. Prizes are not transferable and cannot be resold.
  11. Competition winners will be selected by Berkeley Homes from all entries received.
  12. All entrants must be willing to provide full name, contact details and address and to have these details passed to the suppliers of the prizes.
  13. Any competition winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material, including on the Berkeley Homes website and social media. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.
  14. Entry into the competition gives Berkeley Homes permission to use submitted entries in any future promotional materials, on their website and on social media.
  15. Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.

Tell us your local news here

Seal of approval

Round & About


Main image: Sleeping like a Weddell by Ralf Schneider Highly Commended 2019, Black and White. Left: Canopy hangout by Carlos Pérez Naval, Spain Highly Commended 2019, Young Wildlife Photographers: 11-14 years old . Middle: Lucky break by Jason Bantle, Canada Highly Commended 2019, Urban Wildlife. Right: The climbing dead by Frank Deschandol Highly Commended 2019, Plants and Fungi

The world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, on loan from the Natural History Museum in London, will open at The Base on Friday, 7th February.

“It’s a delight and privilege to bring this exhibition to The Base,” says Corn Exchange Newbury director Grant Brisland. “The previous instalment launched the building [last February] and was enjoyed by over 3,500 people. As we individually and collectively take steps to reduce our impact on the environment, these pictures remind us what we’re aiming to protect for future generations.”

This year’s 100 award-winning images have embarked on an international tour that will allow them to be seen by over a million people. Catch the exhibition at The Base from this month until April.

More info

There are also special events such as Relaxed Days (20th Feb & 8th Apr), a Clay Animals workshop on 22nd February and a Cartoon Animal Drawing workshop on 1st March. Visit the website or call 0845 5218 218.

UCA photography

Karen Neville


Photo in image: From the series La Frontera © Harriet Brookes

Students from the University for the Creative Arts are showcasing some of their work in the latest exhibition at The Lightbox. 

UCA in Farnham has a reputation for educating some of the most innovative photographers of the time and the exhibition will offer visitors an opportunity to explore their work.

The students have captured a variety of themes in their photography to explore contemporary issues, some of which are deeply personal.

Among those whose work is on show include documentary photographer Harriet Brookes whose project La Frontera examines the problems faced by people in Gibraltar during the Brexit negotiations.

Using a series of black and white portraits, Sian Hayden’s photography engages with the uncanny and the male gaze while Neve Marinou explores issues surrounding harassment and the Me Too movement.

UCA Farnham MFA Photography Show is on at The Lightbox, Woking, until 2nd February. Entry to the exhibition is free.

More info

SWT photography exhibition

Round & About


Surrey Wildlife Trust puts winners’ work on display

There are just a few days left to view the winning entries in the Wild Surrey Art & Photography Competition.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Surrey Wildlife Trust is exhibiting the work at Guildford House Gallery until Sunday, 16th June.

The over-18 winner of the art category is artist and art tutor Charlotte Baker from Woking, with Midnight Prince. “Foxes are really mischievous creatures but I think they are so majestic. I wanted to capture that royalty in this piece. I’m really overwhelmed to win.”

The over-18 winner of the photography category is Matthew Nunn, Farnham, with Swan, Frensham Pond. “I went for a walk around Frensham Ponds and grabbed my camera as I wanted to capture the drip shot. I set the shutter to freeze the drip and was absolutely thrilled I got exactly what I wanted.  Winning the competition has inspired me to go forward with my photography – all thanks to Surrey Wildlife Trust.”

The under-18 winner of the art category is Isabelle Saunders, 13, a pupil from Manor House School with Bluebell Badger. “I love bluebells and badgers and I painted them from my imagination. I was surprised to win because I didn’t even realise there would be winners.  But I’m so pleased because I’ve loved art since I was little.”

The under-18 winner of the photography category is Caitlin Ruddock with Butterfly Crossing.

Highly commended are:

Art, over 18 – Shannon Van Lier, Tawny Owl; Alexandra Oldham, Thoughtful Things; Paula Boyd Barrett, Striding Out; Katie Bree Art, Round Leaved Sundew; Emma Bloomfield, The Elusive Kingfisher; Imogen Hartridge, The Conservation Pond, Ashtead; Lisa Benson, My Stag Hill

Photography, over 18 – Alan Seymour, Inquistive Brock; Amanda Cook, Morning Has Broken

Art, under 18 – Alicia Manrique, Bee Aware; Ash Morgan, Scaly Sojourner; Margarita Harff, The Incredible Insect

The exhibition features 80 works showing an appreciation of Surrey’s wildlife.

For more information about this and the work of Surrey Wildlife Trust visit Surrey Wildlife Trust

SWT photography exhibition

Round & About


Be inspired to protect nature by the photographs on display at the Wild Surrey Art & Photography Exhibition.

The exhibition which opens tomorrow (25th May) is part of Surrey Wildlife Trust’s celebration of its 60th anniversary and captures the appreciation and love for the county’s wildlife as well as highlighting its vulnerability and the need to protect it.

The exhibition in Guildford House Gallery, at the top of High Street is free and open to all to come and celebrate Surrey’s amazing nature inspired artworks between 10am and 4.45pm every day. This year Wild Surrey is sponsored by Chessington World of Adventures Resort’s Chessington Conservation Fund.

The short-listed artists include adults and children, amateur and professional, from all over Surrey who have captured serenity and joy in a glowing sunrise or mysterious moonlit landscape. Others have captured a glimpse of a tender character in a hedgehog, fox, butterfly or bee. Like the wildlife and habitats in Surrey, there is a great celebration of colour and diversity of style and media, from printmaking to watercolour, ink and digital artwork.

A more thought provoking side to this exhibition depicts an awkwardness of nature around urban life, a discomfort to see foxes eating from bins, swans nesting around litter, scenes of urban life and nature decaying together.  There is a butterfly settled in the middle of a road, common toads clinging on to survival as they mate on a doorstep, plastic waste in rivers choking otters and fly tipping on nature reserves.

Charlotte Magowan, director of people engagement for Surrey Wildlife Trust, said: “We are so looking forward to seeing the wining artwork up in the exhibition. The high quality of artwork really celebrates the beauty of Surrey’s nature and wildlife.
“The narrative of the exhibition shows how precious and yet precarious Surrey’s nature can be. We hope as many people as possible will come and feel inspired to protect it.”

Wild Surrey’s top £500 prize winners will be announced on Saturday at the special celebratory opening night. Local artist Celia Lewis and photographer Richard Peters will be among the judges.

Can you go wild for 30 days?

Take the challenge and find out

For more information about the exhibition which runs until 16th June, visit Surrey Wildlife Trust

Photo credit: Amy Lewis

DownRight Amazing

Round & About


As it’s World Down Syndrome Day this month (Thursday, 21st March), we’re celebrating a positive campaign this month to raise awareness and funds for a very special charity.

Teddy is a smart, funny, wonderful little boy who puts a smile on the face of everyone he meets. “He’s exactly the way he should be and we wouldn’t change him for the world,” says his proud mum Emily Reay, “but it would be nice if the world would change for him…”

Teddy (pictured) is one of 21 poster stars who, along with their families, are helping raise awareness about Down’s Syndrome (DS). Photographer Magdalena Sztechman, whose sister has Down’s Syndrome, grew up in Poland where she attended regular educational therapy groups and workshops. She wanted to create a positive picture of diversity and similar sense of community here in the UK. Last spring she photographed a sweet little girl called Cara who happens to have Down’s Syndrome and the reaction was hugely positive. “I felt inspired to raise awareness and decided I wanted to do another photo session this year,” explains Magdalena. “This cause is very close to my heart.”

With the help Sparkles, a small, parent-led support charity that offers speech and language therapy and more, 22 willing families got in touch. The resulting images of her subjects will be celebrated on social media daily from 1st March.

“People with Down’s Syndrome can achieve much more than most people can even imagine,” adds Magdalena. “The key is early intervention and extra, well-timed support. It is very important for me to ensure my own daughters understand diversity, the importance of inclusion and that they are naturally open-minded.”

Teddy’s mum Emily is delighted her son is helping to challenge outdated and negative perceptions about Down’s Syndrome. “I didn’t need a test or a doctor to tell me [that he had Down’s Syndrome],” adds Emily of his birth. “I wasn’t sure what this was going to mean for us, but he’s taken my hand and led the way. Don’t be afraid, don’t say sorry, don’t doubt him, don’t treat him differently. Only he can determine what he can and cannot do, my job is to simply provide the love and support to help him achieve his goals. The sky’s the limit.”

Sparkles was started in 1999 by a small group of parents of children with DS who wanted to be able to offer their children more speech therapy than was available through the NHS. To find out more and donate please visit
Also visit

● Join the social media campaign @randamag will be supporting – #DownRightAmazing

Line & light: Art show

Round & About


From Saturday 9th to Sunday 24th March, enjoy an exhibition of photographs, ceramics and life drawings presented by Gaby Guz and Rob Farrands.

Line and Light is the product of a wintertime collaboration between two artists using three media. It is their first joint exhibition. Rob is a photographer who lives in Oxford and Gaby, an alumna of St John’s, is a ceramicist and artist.

Gaby uses line and light to capture the fleeting poses she likes to draw. Her concerns are to convey the essence and emotion of a subject in the brief time that a dynamic pose allows. Her ceramic vessels are largely monochromatic, with bold black and grey lines spreading across egg-shell like pale surfaces.

Rob’s photographs honour the soft, reduced light of the winter solstice. He has shot directly into the light (often including the sun) and dealt with the resulting technical challenges to produce work with strong monochrome tones. His compositions are intended to arouse both a memory of winter’s darkness and the promise of the coming spring.

Rob’s photographs are all taken in Oxford mostly along the banks of the Thames between Iffley and Sandford. He has previously exhibited at the John Radcliffe Hospital in 2016/17 and also in Art Weeks. Gaby’s raku ceramics are monochrome and provide a perfect complement to Rob’s black and white photographs.

The exhibition is at The Barn Gallery, Kendrew Quad, St John’s College, St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3JP. Opening times are 12-5pm weekdays and 11am-6pm Saturdays and Sundays.

Visit and to see more about Gaby and Rod!