Gloucestershire through the lens

Gloucestershire's Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust names regional photography winners

Gloucestershire through the lens

Gloucestershire’s Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust names regional photography winners

A couple’s shared love of photography has led them to being named winners in a photography competition, celebrating the best of Britain’s wetland wildlife.

Hilary and Stephen Haygarth, from Cheltenham, were among four seasonal winners in Gloucestershire’s Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust Centre’s (WWT) autumn heat of its nationwide photography competition; WWT Photography Competition (2011–2012), in association with Canon.

From the abstract to the arty; keen photographers who visited the wetland centre in Slimbridge were invited to submit entries for four photography categories in the first seasonal heat of its national competition.

Hilary Haygarth, a retired civil servant, from Cheltenham was named winner in the Wetland Wildlife category, with her picture entitled ‘Stonechat’.

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Stephen Haygarth, also a retired civil servant, from Cheltenham was named winner in the Wildlife & People category, with his picture entitled ‘To See the Semi-P’.

Steven Flaherty, a professional wildlife photographer, aged 37, from Powys in Wales, was named winner in the Wetland Landscapes category, with his picture entitled ‘I Know Slimbridge is Around Here Somewhere’.

And, Ben Cullen was named the winner in the Young Photographer category, following his picture submission entitled ‘Huh!!! What!!!’.

The competition was open to visitors at the nine WWT wetland centres around the UK. Veronica Chrisp, general manager at the WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, says, “We received over 2,500 submissions across the country, but the quality of the entries from these four fantastic winners caught the judges’ eye and really bought our local WWT wetland centre to life. The competition encourages people to get really close to all the fantastic wildlife we have here at the centre; and these stunning images show off some of the most elegant and colourful array of birds, insects and other animals seen during the autumn.

The autumn seasonal winners have each won a place on an acclaimed photography course, held by nature photography experts Wild Arena. Each of the winners will also now go through to the national finals to be held in autumn 2012, where �50,000 worth of prizes are up for grabs including wildlife photography and activity holidays. As the winner of the Wetland Wildlife Category, Hilary Haygarth will also be in with the chance to win a three-day bird of prey photography workshop in the Czech Republic if she is voted the national winner.

Married couple, Hilary and Stephen, winners of the Wetland Wildlife and People & Wildlife categories, share a passion for photography. Hilary took her winning shot on a wildlife photography tour event held at Slimbridge. She says, “The photography courses at the WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre really helped me to develop an eye for photography. I used to do a lot of landscape photography, but the courses taught me to spot things I ordinarily wouldn’t; and exactly how and when to capture the image.”

Stephen Haygarth adds, “We are delighted that our photos have both won, we never expected our hobby to be so highly rewarded. We were on one of the centre’s photography safari tours when James Lees, the warden, mentioned the competition – we are both very glad he did!”

Stephen Flaherty has followed the WWT photography competition since it began and is delighted to have won the Wetland Landscape category. “WWT Slimbridge is a fantastic location to capture the birds in flight during migrations,” Stephen explains. “For the competition I wanted to enter something totally different. When the geese flew down to land, I knew that I had the shot I was looking for. The geese were wandering around, bobbing up and down as if they were searching for something, that’s why I gave it the comedy title.”

The winter heat of the competition is now open and photographers can enter their prize pictures taken at WWT centres online at until February 29, 2012. Entrants are encouraged to enter more than two of the seasonal heats to automatically go into the Portfolio Photographer of the Year category and to be in with a chance of winning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica, courtesy of Exodus in partnership with Quark Expeditions.

Veronica Chrisp adds, “Our WWT wetland centre isn’t just for budding photographers; it’s for everyone who enjoys nature, wildlife or simply just a great day out. Winter is a truly spectacular time at Slimbridge and the festive period is an excellent time to visit. Whether you want to enjoy a brisk walk or watch one of the spectacular Wild Bird Feeds, there’s something for everyone.”

WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Slimbridge, Glos GL2 7BT

01453 891900,

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