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Wonderful world of wildlife captured on camera

In photos | Published:

From deer to dandelion clocks, and robins to raccoons, a photography show has revealed more wildlife in the West Midlands than anyone ever imagined.

Okay, so the raccoons hang out at the West Midlands Safari Park in Bewdley, along with some of the more exotic exhibits. But, in the main, the latest exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery shows just how much the city abounds with wildlife.

The photographs were taken by local people as part of a community competition to celebrate the gallery’s summer blockbuster show.

The Natural History Museum’s 52nd Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which opened on Saturday, shows awe-inspiring images that capture fascinating animal behaviour and breathtaking landscapes from around the world.

To mark the launch, the gallery is also exhibiting work by local photographers who snapped the flora and fauna that can be found even in an urban setting like Wolverhampton. And they went to town, literally, to show off their talents. One image by Teresa Matthews shows a pigeon sitting on the Villiers statue in West Park, while Rachel Arnold spotted a turtle in the canal near Castlecroft.

Eddie Doherty captured on film one of the peacocks at Moseley Old Hall but Barbara Cole went one better by snapping a muntjac deer in a garden in Compton. Entrants were aged from six to 80.

While most of the images are in colour, a handful of entrants chose black and white, including 19-year-old Fiona Rock, a second-year of animal behaviour and wildlife conservation at the University of Wolverhampton, with her study of a pine marten.

The photographs were taken on mobile phones and tablets as well as cameras, some taken spontaneously while out and about while other entrants waited for hours to get the perfect picture.

Patience certainly paid off for 80-year-old James Gear, from Pelsall, whose spectacular photograph of two goldfinches fighting won the over-18 category.

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At the other end of the age scale was 10-year-old Charlie Hough, from Wombourne, whose close-up of a snail in the garden earned him the title of under-18s winner.

Charlie was one of three members of the Hough family to enter the competition, including dad Martin, 47, whose image of a heron taking to the air near their home is one of the exhibits. Six-year-old Amelia also impressed judges with her picture of a swan with her cygnets at Shugborough Hall.

Charlie took his snail picture for a school project and decided to enter it for the gallery competition.

He inherited a Minolta 25 camera when his dad treated himself to Canon 100D a couple of years ago.

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“It’s not the first time Charlie has beaten me in a photographic competition. We entered one about unsung heroes and his picture of an RNLI lifeboat was ‘highly commended’, which I was a bit miffed about,” joked Mr Hough, a civil servant.

Mr Gear took more than 1,000 photographs of goldfinches before capturing the image that made him the winner in the adult category.

A member of the Wolverhampton Photographic Society, he took up the hobby eight years ago and takes photographs daily on his fancy Sony A77 mark II camera.

He said: “For a number of months I’ve been putting seed in bird feeders for the goldfinches but they always fight for the best place. So I pre-focused my camera on the feeder and started taking photographs. It sounds silly but to get that shot I must have taken 1,000 photographs.”

The winners, who were announced on Saturday, were given free tickets to see the World Wildlife Photography Show and enjoy afternoon tea at the gallery café.

Wolverhampton Grammar School student Isobel Street was runner-up in the under 18s with John Lambert runner-up in the over 18s. Highly commended went to Andrew Crawford, Nigel James Kilworth and Martin Cant.

The competition was judged by the Express & Star, with help from the gallery’s community engagement manager Tess Radcliffe, civic hall events manager Mark Blackstock and and Wolverhampton University fine arts and photography lecturer Dean Kelland.

Around 70 images were entered and every single one is displayed in a dedicated room near the main entrance of the gallery. Both the Natural History touring exhibition and the community exhibition will run until October 1.

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