A striking close-up of a bee on lavender and an iridescent green shield bug caught the judges’ eyes at the prestigious RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2017. 

Youngsters aged under 19 were invited to capture the animal kingdom on camera or mobile device for this year’s competition.

Bangor teenager Lily Edwards’ close-up ‘Buzzy Bee’ photo of a bee on lavender bagged first prize in the 16-18 mobile phone and device category.  Lily’s interest in photography started when she first had a camera aged 12, and she particularly likes taking pictures of nature and animals.

Seventeen year-old Lily said: “I take photographs for pleasure.  It helps me de-stress.  I took this photo in my garden when I noticed a bee buzzing around the lavender.  It took me many attempts to capture a clear photo because it was moving pretty quickly – obviously it was a busy bee.

“Before I discovered macro photography I never truly appreciated the intricacy of small insects like this bee.  I was surprised when I look at the photo and saw the intricate features; its face for example is so prominent and it almost looks as if it’s smiling.”

Another of Lily’s images – a green shield bug – was awarded runner-up prize in the same 16-18 mobile category.  Lily added:  “I took this photo when I noticed a small green insect in my garden.  It was wandering along the fence pretty quickly, so it took me many attempts to capture a clear photo. When I managed to snap a photo I was surprised to see all the details that I didn’t notice with my naked eye – the spots for example are not noticeable from a distance but can really be seen in the photo.”

Targeted at participants aged under 19 across England and Wales, the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2017 were judged by a panel of experts in wildlife photography, led by Springwatch presenter Chris Packham.

Judge and host Chris Packham said: “I’ve been judging the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards since they started.  It’s exciting to see it move with the times, with this year’s new mobile device category.  It’s a great way of making the competition accessible to virtually everyone.”

 The winning images across seven categories were announced during an awards ceremony hosted at the Tower of London on Friday (15 December).

Reflecting on the strength of the competition this year, Chris added:  “It’s nice to see so many photos of day-to-day animals in such a strong competition.  It needs real imagination to make commonplace species interesting, showing that the photographer has been really innovative.

“There are a whole range of images this year from creatures they’ve found in their back garden to pets or animals they’ve seen while they were on holiday.

“It’s great these young people are going out and experiencing the environment around them and in their local area.

“There are some beautiful pictures in this year’s winners gallery and real talent shining through. This year’s entrants have been really creative and that is what we want to see.”

A full gallery of the winning images is available on the RSPCA website.