Photography Competition 2017

Friday 9th February 2018

Cuckoo Chick by Alan Leeks Cuckoo Chick by Alan Leeks

Alan Leeks’ capture of one of nature’s most outrageous acts – a massive Cuckoo fledgling being fed by a tiny adult Dunnock – has won Essex Wildlife Trust’s Photography Competition 2017.

Alan, from Wakering in south Essex, captured the remarkable moment, with the Dunnock standing on the Cuckoo’s back to feed it, at nearby Barling. “I got lucky,” Alan said. “It was the noise of the chick that first alerted me, screaming for more and more food.” Cuckoos are ‘brood parasites’, laying their eggs in the nests of other birds.

Alan received his overall winner’s award and cheque for £250 from two of the judging panel, Andrew Impey, CEO of Essex Wildlife Trust, and Russell Savory, the highly respected wildlife cameraman and filmmaker, at an awards ceremony for category winners and runners-up, held at Essex Wildlife Trust Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre last week.

Earlier, Alan’s image had won the ‘Species’ category. The full list of category winners, who all received a trophy on the night, is as follows:

• ‘EWT to a Tee’ won by Dave Watts’ image of Essex Wildlife Trust’s Lion Creek nature reserve, near Canewdon, on the Crouch Estuary

• ‘Habitats’ won by Stephen Tower’s image of a misty River Chelmer

• ‘Our Beautiful County’ won by Tony Beckwith’s image of the Langdon Hills, near Basildon

• ‘Species’ won by Alan Leeks’ Cuckoo chick and Dunnock image

• ‘Unexpected Essex’ won by Charlotte Smith’s image of a Bank Vole eating beetroot in Charlotte’s Tollesbury garden

• ‘Young Photographer’ won by Max Martin’s image of a Little Owl, taken on Tendring

The six runners-up received certificates, as follows: ‘EWT to a Tee’, Iain Ferguson for an image of Bedfords Park, in south Essex; ‘Habitats’, Lauren Heath of Harwich seafront; ‘Our Beautiful County’, Janet Harris of Stansted countryside; ‘Species’, Neil Phillips of a Grass Snake eating a Great Crested Newt; ‘Unexpected Essex’, Aaron Smith of a Water Vole carrying its young in its mouth; ‘Young Photographer’, Ben Rumsby of a Wasp Spider.

Before the awards, Russell, whose films of Barn Owls, Little Owls, Water Voles and more in Essex have featured on BBC Winterwatch and BBC The One Show, among many others, gave a talk, full of tips and advice on how to capture the best wildlife photographs. Andrew Impey rounded off the evening, thanking all finalists and their friends and family for attending and, indeed, all who had entered the competition. The breadth of entries, which were all taken in Essex, perfectly illustrated the fabulous variety of Essex’s wildlife and wild places.

Thank you so much to all who entered the competition. We plan to launch an Essex Wildlife Trust Photography Competition 2018 in June, which will include some new categories.

Winners L - R: Alan Leeks, Tony Beckwith, Max Martin, Stephen Tower, John Watts (on behalf of his son, Dave Watts)

Winners: Alan Leeks, Tony Beckwith, Max Martin, Charlotte Smith, Stephen Tower, and John Watts (on behalf of his son, Dave Watts)

• Thank you to Olympus KeyMed, based in Southend-on-Sea, for generously supporting the competition and its awards. Olympus KeyMed are long-standing supporters and corporate members of Essex Wildlife Trust.