Norfolk photographer’s success in national wildlife competition
Little Jack Horner sat in the corner, cheekily nibbling on a plum - this beautiful shot reminiscent of the children's nursery rhyme has earned Norfolk photographer Sarah Darnell the runner-up prize in a national photography competition.
Far from being just a lucky snap, Mrs Darnell, from Wymondham, spent about a week working on taking the perfect picture of this daring bank vole who has become a regular visitor to her hide on a north Norfolk farm.
And her patience has been rewarded by the image winning the runner-up prize in the A Brief Encounter category of the 2016 Mammal Photographer of the Year competition run by The Mammal Society.
Mrs Darnell took the photograph in her open hide at Themelthorpe, close to Algy's Farm Shop in Bintree, last December, and she said she was inspired by a chance encounter with two voles.
'Just before Christmas I was sitting in my hide waiting for Buzzards to land in the field,' she said.
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'I had a bag of plums and I had eaten a couple and put the stones on the bank beside me. I became aware of some movement and when I looked I saw two little voles wrestling with a plum stone to try to take it back to their little hole.
'The next day I went back with a whole plum and waited and waited, and then this little vole came out and started to snack on the plum.'
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She said she did this for a few more mornings before taking photographs, so that the vole would become more comfortable with her being there.
'Because it was leading up to Christmas and the vole would sit in the corner eating a plum I called him Little Jack Horner. It became a joke on the farm - have you seen Jack this morning!'
About the great photograph she achieved, she said: 'I think it is quite a unique shot. I was just incredibly lucky to notice the vole and for that little animal to build up the trust with me.'
And she said that, a few months on, she still sees the bold little character.
'I do still see the vole. I've seen him this week. I put food out just once a week because I don't want him to become too dependent on it.'
Mrs Darnell said she wanted to say thank you to north Norfolk farmer Algy Garrod for letting her take photographs of wildlife on his farm.
When asked what her favourite wildlife subjects were, she said 'Everything that's in Norfolk really. We are so lucky here. I have a particular fondness for hares. I just love being in Norfolk because the wildlife opportunities are just incredible.'
Mrs Darnell used a Canon 1DX camera with a 100mm macro lens to take her picture of the bank vole.
For more about The Mammal Society 2016 Mammal Photographer of the Year winners, visit www.mammal.org.uk/MPOY2016winners
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