A striking close-up photo of a bug-eyed dragonfly has beaten images of a leaping stoat and a fox hiding in a plant pot to win best overall picture in a wildlife photography competition.
The competition, run by the charity Essex Wildlife Trust (EWT), saw over 500 entries from more than 250 photographers showing creatures across Essex, ranging from birds in flight to animals in motion.
The annual contest has six categories. They include wildlife motion, for action shots of creatures around Essex; young blood, for images taken by those aged six to 16; smart work, for pictures taken on a smartphone, and gardener’s world, for photos taken in Essex gardens.
The overall winner of the Essex Wildlife Trust annual photography contest is Andrew Neal for this striking close-up image of a common darter dragonfly that he snapped near Hythe Lagoons in Colchester
Photographer Peter Hewitt captured this incredible image of a leaping stoat at Old Hall Marshes in Maldon. He is highly commended in the wildlife motion picture category
This amazing image of a young fox hiding in a plant pot in a garden in Romford is highly commended in the gardener’s world category. It was captured by Barrie Tumbridge
Some of the stunning animals also featured in the competition include a barn owl in mid-flight, a colourful starling, a wandering pheasant and an impressive flock of dunlin and knot birds.
The overall winner of the competition was entered in the pattern and texture category and shows the common darter dragonfly perched on a delicate plant as its bulbous, colourful eyes stare directly at the camera.
It was captured by photographer Andrew Neal along the Hythe Lagoons in Colchester, Essex, during the summer last year.
Andrew said: ‘I caught sight of a common darter dragonfly perched on top of a small plant along the ditch and quickly grabbed my macro lens.
This stunning image of a barn owl in full flight at Blue House Farm in Essex was snapped by Jason Fox. He is highly commended in the wildlife motion picture category
Photographer David Blackwell shot this dramatic image of a flock of dunlin and knot birds on Two Tree Island near Canvey Island. This image earns him highly commended status in the EWT to a Tee category, which is for images taken at an Essex Wildlife Trust site
Runner-up in the wildlife motion picture category is Adrian Galley for his beautiful snap, left, of a kingfisher he spotted in Braintree. Daniel Farrington spotted this starling, right, in Basildon and is highly commended in the gardener’s world category
The winner of the gardener’s world category is Rosemary McKerrell for this close-up shot of a painted lady butterfly and a leafcutter bee on Hatfield Heath
‘Fortunately, due to the drop in temperature and time of day, the dragonfly was very cooperative.
‘This gave me the opportunity to compose the shot at the right angle so that a solitary buttercup on the ground below provided a nice splash of colour.’
Andrew was picked as the winner after gaining the most votes out of the 1,500 cast by the public.
He added: ‘I’m absolutely over the moon to have been voted the overall winner of the competition, particularly as there were so many striking images that won their respective categories.
‘You only have to browse through the runners up and highly commended photos to see how high the standard was this year.
Highly commended in the EWT to a Tee category is Kerri Webb, who impressed with his beautiful shot of a heath fritillary butterfly in Belfairs
Ten-year-old Thomas Rumsby is the winner of the young blood category, which is for those aged six to 16, with this photo of a wandering pheasant he encountered in Abberton
The winner of the wildlife motion picture category is David Blackwell. He captured this action shot of a fox shaking itself dry in Pound Wood, Thundersley
Highly commended in the pattern and texture category is James Northfield for this intricate image of a blue-tailed damselfly taking a rest
Matthew Chapman is the winner of the EWT to a Tee category with this stunning sunset picture he captured at Hornchurch Country Park
‘Any one of those images would have been an exceptionally worthy winner.
‘To have won the overall vote on top of being selected by the judges as a category winner means a great deal.’
Holly Shea, marketing & PR officer at ACL Essex, the competition’s sponsor, said: ‘We’re delighted to have sponsored the Essex Wildlife Trust Photography Competition for the second year in a row.
‘It is inspiring to see the talent that we have within Essex, as well as the stunning landscapes and wildlife that are captured.
‘Well done to Andrew Neal, a well-deserved winner.’
The Essex Wildlife Trust Photography Competition for 2020 opens in September.