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I’ve won the British Seasons category of the British Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Very excited to announce that this week I won a prize in the highly esteemed 2016 British Wildlife Photography Awards for a series of photographs I took of weasels in my garden.
The four pictures, which follow a weasel family from the the first flowers of spring to late winter snows, won the British Seasons category and go on show in a travelling exhibition that opened on Monday at the Mall Galleries in London.
I’ve only just returned from opening night where I got to meet and admire the incredible work submitted by the other contestants.
The judges told me that they chose my pictures because it is so rare for anyone to get close up shots of weasels in the wild. 
Weasels are so small and lithe that it is very difficult to see more than a fleeting glimpse of them in the wild and very few close up portraits exist. Yet I took these in my own garden:
Spring: Most of the action took place outside my kitchen where I
could photograph it through the window. The female cached its rodents in a
mouse hole under a blossoming mound of pink saxifrage. Moments before I took
the photograph she had been carrying a wood mouse to her nesting chamber when
the male appeared. At nearly double her weight, she was rightly very wary of
him and so she dropped her catch and watched him intently, pausing just long
enough for me to photograph her against the bloom. 
Summer: Here the female is carrying one of her kits to a new
location. The kits were just 17 days old and she carried them one by one with
such a delicate grasp it was a touching to see. I had been watching her via a
camera hidden inside her nest and as soon as I saw her start to pick up the
kits I rushed to my camera to capture this rare moment. The photograph shows
her struggle as she keeps a wary eye out for danger whilst manoeuvring this kit
through the entrance hole to a new location.
Autumn: This
photo is of one of the male kits in his first autumn. I took it just as he
popped his head up through a pile of roots and leaves. Underneath the roots I
had placed a feeding box. The kit was almost fully grown. Unfortunately its
mother had been predated by a stoat. But luckily weasels mature fast and it was
already fending for itself and took up the territory in my garden.
Winter: This photograph was taken from my kitchen window on a cold
January day. I normally head outside as soon as it snows to capture wildlife
against a white backdrop. But this year I was so absorbed with photographing
the male weasel’s first winter I stayed at home, my eyes ever trained on my
weasel surveillance screens and the windows looking out onto the weasel’s
territory. I was struck by how pristine the tiny predator looked against the
white. It was as though he had dressed for the occasion. His whiskers were
perfectly symmetrical, his bib as clean as the surrounding snow.
My winning shots go on show in my gallery in Thixendale from this week and this beautiful book, see below, featuring all of this year’s BWPA winners can be purchased online by following this link to my website. 

A sleek coffee table edition, it measures 27cm x 27cm and costs £25.
The story of how I got up close to these elusive predators was also featured this year on BBC’s Springwatch. You can read the background to the tale of how I got close enough to a family of weasels to paint them by clicking here and, for all the latest on the weasels in the garden, click here.  
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