Mammal Society photographic competition challenges public misconceptions
Should the Mammal Society be encouraging trapping mammals and staging Photos?
I am lucky to have a fox den in my garden. When new cubs first emerge I observe and photograph their antics. They are not tame but I have a strong bond of trust with 2 females that are very inquisitive. They interact with my many pets and myself but are w
February 2013. Capturing ‘extraordinary' behaviour of Britain's mammals was just one of the criteria the judges were looking for when examining entries to The Mammal Society Mammal Photographer of the Year competition.
Marina Pacheco is The Mammal Society's chief executive. Commenting on the high standard of the competition entries, she said: "Compared with birds or even insects, mammals can be difficult to see, let alone photograph.
So, we knew that inviting photographers to capture mammals' unusual behaviour was going to be a tall order. However, we were thrilled by the 370 submissions. Our entrants have not only captured the essence of British mammals, but from deer to dolphins and red deer to rats, they've also captured the sheer diversity too."
Often feared and shunned, brown rats are perhaps an unlikely photographic model. However, Roy Rimmer, of Wigan, Greater Manchester, defied public misconceptions and used technical excellence to freeze the motion of a jumping rat. Wildlife photographer Kate MacRae was one of the judges. She said: "This image quite literally ‘leapt' out at me when I first saw it. Often misunderstood and unfairly depicted, I loved the unique energy in this capture."
1st place WINNER
I caught this Rat in a live trap and kept it in a
outdoor set I made, the set up is two meters long
and a meter wide made of Perspex,it has a
plywood front with holes cut in for my camera and
flash guns, I placed two rusty paint cans in the set
up and the rat would leap from one can too the
other,I had to use flash to freeze the action.
Trapped and staged
Whilst Wildlife Extra admires the image, WE are
surprised that the Mammal Society is encouraging
the trapping and caging of wild animals. It is
slightly reminiscent of the wolf photo that initially
was declared the winner of the Wildlife Photo of
the Year competition before it was disqualified for
being staged and potentially a tame wolf.
Images are so much more powerful if taken 'in
the wild' rather than staged.
Roy said "I caught this Rat in a live trap and kept it in a outdoor set I made, the set up is two meters long and a meter wide made of Perspex, it has a plywood front with holes cut in for my camera and flash guns, I placed two rusty paint cans in the set up and the rat would leap from one can too the other,I had to use flash to freeze the action."
Staying with a ‘mammals around us' theme, Julie Milne, from South East England, won judges' hearts with an image of a fox licking a window. Marina Pacheco added: "Foxes have hit the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons. However, this image helps to challenge misconceptions and shows an engaging side to the distant cousin of man's best friend."
The third prize winner was Gary Cox, with a photo of a wood mouse with a blackberry, which judges said showed a common mammal, often overlooked and under-appreciated, in an extraordinary way. The under-18 category attracted some fantastic winning entries. Alex Berryman of Fleet, Hampshire, turned to one of the UK's most threatened mammals for inspiration by capturing a technically excellent shot of a water vole. While Alessandro Oggioni of Monza, Italy, froze the movement when two dolphins leapt out of the water, off the coast of Inverness. The stunningly atmospheric image of a roe buck at dawn by Becky Cartwright of Cannock, Staffordshire, was the winning entry from the Mammal Society's membership.
I noticed several woodmice and a vole were feeding on seeds etc falling from the bird table, so I built a nearby enclosed feeding table at ground level just for the small rodents. By gradually raising it a little way off the ground the Mice/Voles would go up a strategically placed ramp. When they were used to this I replaced the ramp with a blackberry stem which they readily took to. They would often grab an item and run back down the stem carrying it. I placed a few Blackberrys and Hazelnuts on the feeder which were eagerly carried off The best time to photograph them was very early in the morning using several flashguns which also helped to freeze the movement.
As a collection, the entrants from this year remind us to appreciate even the most common of species, as well as iconic mammals such as red squirrel and hedgehog, and encourage us to look at our mammals with a renewed sense of respect and admiration.
The first prize is a top of the range Spypoint HD10 Wildlife Camera worth £250. A Cooley Wildlife Photography day, in Ireland, including two nights bed and breakfast, worth £150, will be awarded to the runner up. The third-place winner will receive £30 Wildlife Watching Supplies gift voucher, while the under 18 category winners will each receive a pair of Bushnell 8x21 binoculars worth £30.
The membership winner will receive a Bushnell TrophyCam remote camera worth £250.
‘Fox With Lunch’ - I took this photo of a male Fox after he had collected two voles and carried them off. I managed to capture this shot of him just after he picked them up. This shot amazed the mammal expert at BBC Wildlife magazine, who said he had never seen a male Fox carry off voles as it’s normally the Vixen who would pick up voles and them to the cubs.
Surfing seal - This surfing seal was taken at Godrevy on the north coast of Cornwall. It shows interesting behaviour that I have never seen before. I preempted this was going to happen as it was showing signs of being playful, so I stayed even longer to see if it would do what I was hoping it would do.
Weasel Chasing Sparrows - Taken at RSPB Rainham Marshes. I was walking back to the visitor centre when I noticed a group of sparrows picking at the stones on the ground. I stopped a minute to watch them when suddenly this weasel burst out of the grass. My instinct was to drop to the ground to get as low as angle as possible and fire off a couple of shots. Luck must have been with me as this was one of the resulting images.