A photograph of a red squirrel captured mid-scurry has been named the overall winner of the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2011.
Taken by 16-year-old Will Nicholls in Keilder Forest, Northumberland, the image also won in the 16-18 category and was described by judge Danny Green as “a very intimate portrait of an elusive creature”.
“The way the light is shining on the squirrel in this picture makes you feel as if it is you, the viewer, who has happened across it. It is very personal, giving you the impression that you are actually there,” Green added.
“This is all the more powerful because the red squirrel is not doing too great at the moment – there has been a massive decline and it is now a very rare species.”
The photograph fought off competition from other winning images in the competition, including two rutting stags captured by 17-year-old Sam Rowley (winner of the Portfolio category) and a pair of excited whippets running along a beach by 16-year-old Amy Wilton (winner: Pet Personalities).
The awards were presented by wildlife filmmaker and TV presenter Simon King, who also helped judge the awards. He said: "The standard of the entries this year has been just incredible and it is a privilege to be involved in this competition.
"It is fantastic to see such young talent pour so much imagination and originality into capturing the spirit of an animal and our relationship with them.
"I was particularly impressed with how young some of the entrants were - the under 12 category was just phenomenal."
Check out the winning images in the gallery below.