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Swift Pelican wins top Ecology Photo Prize

Published: 28th December, 2020 at 20:08
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British Ecological Society’s annual photography competition winners announced.

In a busy year for photo awards, an image of a flying Dalmatian Pelican, taken by Alwin Hardenbol, has been awarded Overall Winner in the British Ecological Society’s annual photography competition, 'Capturing Ecology'.


The winning images and an additional 16 highly commended images, taken by international ecologists and students, celebrate the diversity of ecology; capturing flora and fauna from across the planet.

We have picked out some of our favourites from the winners and the highly commended(s), and bring them to you now.

For more amazing science photography, why not check out these galleries too?


Overall Winner - The Art of Flight

Panning shot of a Dalmatian Pelican. Its tough, but so worth it when it turns out well. This shot was taken with 1/30s, f/8.0, and ISO 800 at 80mm.
Panning shot of a Dalmatian Pelican, taken by Alwin Hardenbol Alwin Hardenbol

On her winning image, Alwin, a PhD candidate at the University of Eastern Finland, said: “I gave this image the title The art of flight because of how impressive this bird's wings appear in the picture, you can almost see the bird flying in front of you despite it being a still image".

“I used a technique called panning which involves using a slow shutter speed and moving the camera along with the bird as it flies. In a perfect scenario, the background and most of the bird will show blurred movement but the head should be sharp. I took thousands of pictures and while most failed, I was very happy with this shot.


“Winning such a competition as an ecologist provides me with the opportunity to continue combining my research with my passion for nature photography.”


Runner Up - Ant Tale

A colony of Weaver Ants hard at work, Buxa tiger reserve, India Upamanyu Chakraborty

Overall winner - Student Category - Waterfall Swift

Waterfall swift - Pablo Javier Merlo
Cypseloides senex is a species of swift known in Latin America literally as "Waterfall swift", Iguazú falls, Argentina Pablo Javier Merlo

Runner Up - Hatching

The paralarvae of California two-spot octopus, Octopus bimaculatus, hatching from their egg sacs, La Jolla, California, USA Pichaya Lertvilai

Winner, Up Close and Personal Category - Student - Into the Lion's Den

Into the Lion's den - Sam England
A jumping spider (family Salticidae) sits at the edge of its den, constructed on the underside of a fallen leaf, Heredia, Costa Rica Sam England

Winner, Dynamic Ecosystems Category - Dances with Rattlers

Roadrunners will kill and eat rattlesnakes but must avoid being struck, so they perform this amazing dance, always moving and keeping beyond striking distance with their wings out and body feathers. This snake survived and moved on. Mojave Desert, Arizona, USA
Roadrunner 'dancing' around and attempting to kill a rattlesnake without being bitten, Mojave Desert, Arizona, USA Peter Hudson

Highly Commended - Hunter

Hunter - Roberto García-Roa
A wasp hunting a big spider, taking it from the cephalothorax to avoid the spider's dangerous chelicera, Ecuador Roberto García-Roa

Highly Commended - That Sinking Feeling

That sinking feeling - Ute Bradter
Spur-winged plovers (Vanellus spinosus) perching on hippos (Hippopotamus amphibious, Uganda Ute Bradter

Highly Commended - Mimicry

Oiticella convergens moth mimicing yellow leaf, Laguna Blanca, Paraguay
Oiticella convergens moth mimicing yellow leaf, Laguna Blanca, Paraguay Gabor Pozsgai


Winner, Individual & Pop - The Last Meal of the Day

A group of greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) feed at the saltworks of Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone, Montpellier, France David López-Idiáquez

Highly Commended - Diving with a Pink Jellyfish

A pink jellyfish surrounded by bubbles, Riou archipelago, near Marseille, France Boris Horvat

Highly Commended - The neighbor

Gonatodes albogularis is an elusive lowland gecko that, despite its striking colors, is usually near crevices or narrow cavities where it can easily hide when it feels in danger, Río Claro Natural Reserve, Antioquia, Colombia
The Yellow-headed gecko is usually found in narrow cavities where it can hide when it feels in danger, Antioquia, Colombia Khristian Valencia


James CutmorePicture Editor, BBC Science Focus

James Cutmore is the picture editor of BBC Science Focus Magazine, researching striking images for the magazine and on the website. He is also has a passion for taking his own photographs


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