Writing competition: Thumbnail birdwatching

by bird-watching |
Published on

Can you capture a birding moment you experienced in just 50 words or fewer
of creative prose or poetry? That’s the challenge for Bird Watching Magazine’s
new creative writing competition.

WIN Maven B1.2 10x42 Binoculars worth £1,050

Review: www.birdwatching.co.uk/gear/binoculars/

How you decide to interpret the theme is entirely up to you. You could write about that special memory of seeing a lifer, one of those ‘wow’ moments with birding friends, or even seeing a very familiar bird through new eyes. The judges will be looking for the entries which convey a birding moment so vividly that, when reading it, they feel as if they are standing next to you.

Our regular contributor, Amanda Tuke, developed the idea of Thumbnail Nature or ultra-short creative nature writing of 50 words or fewer as a way of empowering new writers in nature-writing workshops. “In Thumbnail Nature there are no rules about grammar, punctuation or using abbreviations and slang”, Amanda says, “but just make sure the reader can understand what you’re trying to convey”.

If you think you’d enjoy ultra-short nature writing, Amanda has published an A5-size Thumbnail Nature activity journal which you can buy at this link: goldcrestprojects.bigcartel.com/products for £8.50, plus postage and packing.

Examples of Thumbnail Nature

Thumbnail Nature on the subject of birds can take different forms and styles, as below:

wagtails (from the passenger seat of the car)

they duck dive weave
tip and dip, and pip
to each other

dart through wind
bob, blur, swoop
in the sea breeze

flitter like litter
picked up in a gust
thrown up into crisp blue sky

Helen Jones: unlockingwords.wordpress.com/

The Kingfisher is a pint-sized, bling-sporting, turbo-charged sprite. It’s an odd contradiction, an angler in a hurry. It cuts a dash as it dashes across cuts and other waterways, gorgeous but elusive, briefly dazzling the eye but disappearing when still.
Dominic Couzens

GIVE IT A BLOODY REST – I’m trying to work here! When not pestering mum for food, teen crow mooches on the roof, worries at the few baby feathers on his chest & shrieks at my open window. Face it mate, it’s time you left home… but, boy, we’ll miss you. 
Amanda Tuke

If you’re chosen as a winner by our judges, your entry will be published in the April issue of Bird Watching Magazine and, as well as a copy of Amanda Tuke’s Thumbnail Nature Journal, you’ll receive the following prizes…

1st prize – Maven B1.2 10x42 binoculars, worth £1,050

2nd prize – £150 of recent birding book releases

3rd prize – Free membership of Bird Watching for one year

Under-18s prize – Olympus WP1 10x25 binoculars

All entries will appear on the Bird Watching Magazine app and members’ website from April 2023 onwards.

Renowned author and birder, Stephen Moss will be chairing the judging panel for the 18-plus competition, which will include Bird Watching Magazine writers Amanda Tuke and Dominic Couzens, joined by author and Guardian Country Diarist, Anita Roy.

Amanda Tuke will judge the competition for entrants aged under 18 years.

All entries will be anonymised prior to judging.

Summary of competition terms and conditions

The competition is free to enter.

Only one entry will be accepted per entrant.

Your entry must be no more than 50 words including its title, if it has one.

Your entry must be previously unpublished, either online or in print.

Entrants must not have had a paid-for article published previously in Bird Watching Magazine.

Entries must be received by 11.59pm on 27 January 2023

How to enter the Thumbnail Birds creative writing competition

Please send your entry by email only, to: birdwatching@bauermedia.co.uk by 11.59pm on 27 January 2023.
Paste the text of your entry into the body of the email, rather than attaching it in a document.

Don’t forget to include your full name, your address, your email address and daytime telephone number.

Entrants aged under 18 must state their age with their competition entry, and confirm that they have permission to enter from their parent or guardian.

The winners will be announced on 13 March 2023.

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