Taken by wildlife enthusiast Dean Mason at a site in Kent, the winning image will grace the cover of the Countryfile Calendar for 2017, which is being sold for BBC Children in Need.
Dean told Countryfile Magazine that wildlife photography has always been his passion.
Dean said: “I began my quest into digital photography about 12 years ago and have enjoyed many highs and a few lows along the way. Owing to my life long appreciation of nature and the great outdoors my focus was always going to be wildlife. I find wildlife photography challenging, yet rewarding, it’s given me an unspeakable amount of pleasure since the beginning of my photography journey.”
Incredibly, to take the photo, which was shot three years ago, Dean sat in the water for 24 hours and waited patiently for a water vole to appear.
“After 24 hours actually sitting in the water wearing a full set of chest waders I achieved the image, Berry Brunch. The one thing I never anticipated was the priceless expression on the water vole’s face. To say I was delighted would be an understatement.”
Despite feeling “sick” when he discovered out he’d won and would be appearing on the TV programme, camera shy Dean said that he was also elated to have won.
“I don’t think my winning image was special at all. But I do believe it quite possibly appealed to the public due to the cuteness overload and priceless expression of the water vole”, said Dean.
He added: “The Countryfile calendar competition is the only photographic competition I’ve ever entered. I am a very quiet, shy individual and very critical of my own work. Therefore entering a competition was never on my to-do list. The only reason I entered was because my wife, Steph suggested, or should I be honest and say insisted, I send in my Berry Brunch image because it was for Children in Need, a charity that is very close to her heart.
“My wife works for Diverse Abilities, a charity which provides care and support for adults and children with learning and physical disabilities and their families. Over the past few years the charity has received funding from CIN. How could I refuse? My photograph was entered.”
Countryfile Calendar judge, John Craven, said: "Countryfile viewers chose this as the overall winner and what a charming, cheeky image it is. Dean sat on a river bed in Kent, in full length waders, for two days waiting for the water vole to appear – that’s dedication! But its face was hidden by the berries so he clicked his shutter button, the sound made it peek out, and he got his front-cover picture – and if it doesn’t persuade thousands of our loyal followers to buy the calendar, nothing will!"
Dean says that his next photography project will be Kingfishers, so watch this space...
To buy your copy of the Countryfile Calendar for 2017, see our information page here
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