Water vole image pick of the crop in Countryfile photography competition
Published 02/10/2016 | 18:46
Countryfile viewers have picked a charming image of a water vole snacking on berries as the winner of the show's annual photography competition.
The picture, taken by Dean Mason and titled Berry Brunch, was crowned the champion during Sunday evening's episode of the popular BBC One programme.
It will now take pride of place on the front cover of Countryfile's 2017 calendar, in aid of BBC Children in Need. Berry Brunch will also be the calendar image for October.
The theme for this year's competition was From Dawn Till Dusk.
The show's panel of judges - John Craven, Deborah Meaden and cameraman Simon King - handpicked 12 photos from 21,000 entries which featured an array of rural landscapes and wildlife in the British countryside.
The overall winning photo was then chosen by Countryfile viewers.
Winner Mason said: "The water vole photograph was taken in Kent three years ago after I had spent 24 hours sitting in the water wearing a full set of chest waders.
"The one thing I never anticipated was the priceless expression on the water vole's face.
"I knew it was a quirky photo but never dreamed it would make the final 12, let alone be chosen by the public to grace the front cover.
"To say I was delighted would be an understatement."
Judge and presenter Craven said: "We judges spent a very long day arguing over and pleading for our own particular favourites.
"This year's theme gave viewers a pretty broad canvas as they set out with their cameras to capture the best of rural Britain and its wildlife."
He said of Dragons' Den star Meaden: "Deborah, as I expected, was taking no prisoners, and rightly so because whittling down a profusion of brilliant pictures to just 12 is a demanding task, one fit for a dragon."
Last year, the Countryfile calendar raised a record-breaking £2,031,654 for BBC Children in Need, bringing the total over the years to more than £11 million.