Winners of annual national mammal photography competition announced
The past year has been challenging for people in so many ways and yet, when the Mammal Society set the challenge of submitting photographs of Britain’s “Mammals during Lockdown” for this year’s Mammal Photographer of the Year competition, the nation’s amateur wildlife photographers rose to the challenge.
Head judge of this year’s competition, ecologist and photographer Dr Brett Lewis, said “The subjects covered in this year’s selection of photographs include an array of species observed close to home, in our gardens or streets, in local parks or during permitted activities such as conducting voluntary surveys as part of national monitoring projects for protected species.”
Winner of this year’s first prize is Daniel Whitby’s stunning photograph of a Lesser horseshoe bat. Dr Lewis commented, “In creating this amazing image, Daniel has achieved and shares with us an incredibly high standard of photography. One of Britain’s smaller species of bats, Lesser horseshoes are about the size of a plum. Obtaining a photograph as sharp and as clear as this takes a lot of skill, as well as requiring sound knowledge of the subject.” Daniel is a highly regarded ecological consultant and bat scientist, he has a special licence that allows him to photograph bats as part of his ongoing research.
Daniel, from West Sussex, said “these bats are particularly small and fast, and can stay close to features and edges making them particularly difficult to photograph.”
Daniel’s prize is a day of photography at the British Wildlife Centre in Sussex and £100 of CEWE photographic printing vouchers.
The runner up in this year’s competition is a photograph of one of Britain’s more confident mammals, the grey squirrel. The prize-winning image was taken by Robin Morrison from Somerset.
Broadcaster and Mammal Society patron Zeb Soanes said “We see many handsome red squirrels in this competition but what struck me about Robin’s grey squirrel was the drama of the shot and the skill in capturing that action. It’s great to see the elongated torso and the look of extreme satisfaction at reaching that prized oak-apple, which raises a smile. The photo is pin-sharp, which couldn’t have been easy to achieve with the movement of the squirrel on such a thin branch. For me it has everything: composition, colour and character.”
Robin’s prize is £100 of CEWE vouchers and a £50 voucher from NHBS, suppliers of wildlife books and equipment.
This year saw the introduction of a mobile phone category, devised to open up the competition to those wishing to send in opportunistic images captured through the lens of a camera device that many people have access to.
The winner of the new category is Sarah Hayden’s photograph of her cat Charlie coming face to face to with a grey squirrel through a patio door. Sarah, from London, captioned the photo “During lockdown, Charlie has been making friends with our local squirrel community.” Mammal Society President and member of the judging panel for the first time, Penny Lewns, said “The judges were unanimous in awarding first prize in the category to this picture, it so perfectly sums up the last year and the competition title ‘Mammals in Lockdown’. The use of a mobile phone camera enabled the winner, Sarah Hayden, to capture this wonderful moment.”
Sarah wins an LTL Acorn Scouting Wildlife camera and a squirrel feeder and food courtesy of CJ Wildlife.
Mammal Society Chair, Professor Fiona Mathews, said “Given that more people have been enjoying nature over the past twelve months we are pleased that we made the decision to go ahead with this year’s competition. Once again, we have been surprised and delighted by the stunning entries we’ve received. Lockdown has highlighted just how much we all need and appreciate wildlife. We hope that this will continue long after the pandemic is over.”
The Mammal Photographer of the Year 2021 presentation and prize-giving will take place after the Mammal Society’s annual Cranbrook Memorial Lecture on the evening of Friday 16 April. This year’s Lecture, entitled “Reasons to be Cheerful – the importance of optimism in conservation” will take place online and will be given by Andrew Balmford, Professor of Conservation Science, University of Cambridge. The Lecture is free to attend but tickets must be booked in advance via the link below.
An exhibition of this year’s prize-winning and highly recommended photographs will take place at the Mammal Society’s Spring Conference which, this year, will be held online on Saturday 17 April. Tickets are available to purchase here at www.mammal.org.uk/events/66th-spring-conference/.
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Notes to editors
- Seventeen of the shortlisted photographs were given special recognition. The Highly Commended photographers were Keith Elcombe, Neil McGlashan, Elizabeth Miller, Robin Morrison (Runner Up and Highly Commended), Daniel Whitby (Winning photograph and Highly Commended), Conrad Dickinson, Robin Backhouse, Paul McCleverty, Jason Parry-Wilson (two photographs), Jon Kelf, Martin Urch, Andy Wall, Julian Terreros-Martin, John Keery, Ruth Chamberlain and Jeremy Robbins.
- All bats and their roosts are protected by law. As a bat scientist, winner of this year’s competition, Daniel Whitby holds a special licence that allows him to photograph bats as part of his ongoing research.
- The Mammal Society is grateful to our competition judges Brett Lewis, Penny Lewns and Zeb Soanes and to our competition sponsors British Wildlife Centre, CEWE photographic printers, CJ Wildlife and NHBS.
- One in four of our native mammals is threatened with extinction, and many others are in decline. With Britain now recognised as one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, urgent action is needed. The Mammal Society is working to give our wildlife a better future by:
- Keeping a constant watch on the conservation status of our mammals and making this information freely available
- Making conservation more effective by providing guidance on what to do and where to do it
- Educating the public and professionals about wild mammals, training people to survey them, and sharing the latest research
- Working in partnership to restore native mammal populations and re-establish functional ecosystems
- The Mammal Society is the only charity with an interest in all British mammals
- The Mammal Society’s conservation work is supported through the generosity of our supporters. Currently our work includes investigating the causes of hedgehog declines, research into the ingestion of micro-plastics by small mammals, monitoring water vole/mink presence in Wales, the Volunteer Mountain Hare Survey in Scotland and documenting the status of all British mammals with the help of citizen science volunteers. We will be launching a new national Harvest Mouse survey later this year.
- To find out more about how to support our work visit https://www.mammal.org.uk/support-us/
- The Mammal Society’s Mammal Mapper app is free to download and easy to use. It allows citizen scientists to record mammal signs and sightings when out and about. Users can upload sightings of dead or living mammals spotted when they are in the garden, travelling on foot, a passenger in a car, horse-riding or on a train. Records can be uploaded in situ or when back at home. Find out more at https://www.mammal.org.uk/volunteering/mammal-mapper/.
- Recent Mammal Society publications include The State of Mammals in Wales and the Atlas of the Mammals of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
- Visit mammal.org.uk for more information or follow the Mammal Society on Facebook @MammalSociety, Twitter @Mammal_Society and Instagram @mammalsociety.