Two amateur Norfolk photographers have won national plaudits for their stunning depictions of the wildlife around Norwich.

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James Yaxley, from Norwich, and Jamie Hall, from Blofield, were both highly commended at the finals of the British Wildlife Photography Awards (BWPA).

Mr Yaxley, 46, received the accolade in the animal behaviour category for “Hands Up” , a quirky portrait of a frog in the Vinegar Pond at Mousehold Heath in Norwich.

But his favourite submission was an image of a pheasant, silhouetted against the dawn at an RSPB nature reserve outside the city.

“I knew there was a particularly friendly pheasant at Strumpshaw Fen that would run up to you and beg for food,” he said.

“I got up really early one morning as I thought it would make a great shot as a silhouette.

“The pheasant turned up on cue and I was really lucky that the sky was so brooding. I put some food down, set my tripod up and, hey presto, it performed.

“You cannot stage wildlife photos, but this was a rare example of being able to use your skill and knowledge of the subject matter to get the shot.

Mr Yaxley, who lives in central Norwich, balances his photography with his job as a manager for a social housing landlord.

He said: “In the summer, I am up at 3am or 4am to take photos before I go to work, so I often get sunrise and sunset pictures. It is immensely time-consuming but very rewarding.

“I was absolutely delighted with the competition. Just to be able to keep pace with the increasingly high standard that was going into the competition was incredibly pleasing.”

Jamie Hall, 34, a self-employed decorator from Blofield was highly commended for his emotive picture of a dead fox lying alongside Norwich’s Southern Bypass.

A long exposure was used to capture the streaking lights of passing cars – including the emergency blue of a police car.

“It was to tell a story,” he said.

“The idea of having the lights trailing in the background was to show that despite something being killed on the side of the road, we all carry on and life goes on.

“I set my shutter for three minutes, and I was very lucky that the police car went past to give me that blue streak. That was an extra added bonus.”

Although he only took up photography in 2010, Mr Hall was a winner in the EDP Pensthorpe NatureWatch competition in his debut year, and said he was delighted to get the added endorsement of the BWPA, alongside Mr Yaxley.

“We both live in Norfolk, which is one of the most abundant wildlife counties, and we were the only Norfolk photographers to be awarded anything this year,” he said.

“It’s great, because we were up against the best of the best of this country’s wildlife photographers.”

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