About the Mammal Photographer of the Year competition
Mammal Photographer of the Year is an annual photography competition run by the Mammal Society. With the coronavirus pandemic underway in the UK and around the world, this year’s theme was ‘Mammals During Lockdown’.
“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,” says ecologist and photographer Dr Brett Lewis, who was the head judge of this year’s competition.
Mammal Society Chair, Professor Fiona Mathews, says “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. 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.
To view the images as a slideshow, click on the arrows in the top right hand corner of the photos below.
Winner of this year’s first prize is Daniel Whitby’s stunning photograph of a Lesser horseshoe bat. Dr Lewis comments, “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.” All bats and their roosts are protected by law. 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, says “these bats are particularly small and fast, and can stay close to features and edges making them particularly difficult to photograph.”
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 says, “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.”
Winner of the mobile phone category
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, says “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.”
Highly Commended images
An additional 17 images were given special recognition and awarded Highly Commended: