Congratulations to the finalists of this years Biodiversity Photographer of the Year competition!

Thank you to all who entered! There was a huge amount of talent on display and shortlisting the entries down to only 20 was a very tough job. The shortlist was chosen not only for the technical and artistic skill displayed in the images, but for the behaviours on display, and the interconnections between species and habitat. They truly showcase some beautiful aspects of Ireland’s biodiversity. A special thanks to the entrants for the Ocean Category. We were blown away by the quality of the images submitted for this new category, and found it stunning to see some of the hidden species living beneath the waves.

Below are the winners and shortlist, as well as comments from the judges.


FIRST PLACE

Flying High

By Daniel Lettice

Common Dolphins breach a lot, but rarely this high. I’ve only a seen common dolphin breach this high once before. It was 15ft clear of the water at full breach. An awesome sight! Taken south of Baltimore, West Cork with the iconic Baltimore Beacon away in the distance.

Common Dolphins, as their name suggests, are the most common dolphin seen around Irelands Coast. This was one of about 150 seen that particular day. There are various theories as to why dolphins breach, including communication, removing parasites, better visibility or simply for fun.

SECOND PLACE

Corncrake Breaking Cover

By John Murphy

THIRD PLACE

Dueling Grebes

By Suzanne Behan

Great Crested Grebes engaging in battle as part of the intriguing mating rituals of
the Grebe. 

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Meadow Pipit with Varied Diet

By Maureen Hastings

This photo taken on Downpatrick Head shows the natural variation of the diet available in this beautiful natural area.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Two’s Company

By Rosemary Deevy

Taken at Kilcoole Beach early one evening

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Mating Ritual Little Tern

By John Murphy

HIGHLY COMMENDED

It’s the Little Things

By Christopher Howes

This image was captured in my garden which I was delighted with, only for a friend of mine gave me a loan of a lense to be able to get in close and see the world of our bees. All it takes is plant a few flowers in your garden no matter how small will do a lot for our bees.

OCEAN PHOTOGRAPHY CATEGORY

WINNER

Peek-a-Boo Pipefish

By Vanessa Keane

I found this pipefish while scuba diving Newfee in Kilkee along the Wild Atlantic Way.

This little cutie is part of the Syngnathidae family which also consists of seahorses and seadragons, grow to approximately 12  inches in length and life for 5-10 years. They live in coastal areas particularly where seaweeds and sea-grasses are abundant.

OCEAN PHOTOGRAPHY CATEGORY

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Fjordia chriskaugei 

By Libby Keatley

Nudibranchs (Fjordia chriskaugei) at The Maidens, Co. Antrim. 

PEOPLE’S CHOICE

Curious Red Fox

By Michal Kostrzanowski

River Dodder, Dublin. This beautiful Red Fox appeared out of nowhere and looked me right in the eye while photographing a heron feeding in the river.
Fun Guy

By Deirdre McCarthy

Mycena adscendens discovered on a trail walk in Co. Kerry. Taken on an iPhone.
Sleeping Nomad Bee

By Joshua Clarke

Nomad bees are cleptoparasites of solitary bees including mining bees (Andrena spp.), with different nomad species associated with one or a few hosts. My local site along the River Lagan in Belfast is home to numerous mining bee species and nearby a mining bee nest aggregation during overcast weather on 2nd May 2022, this resting Marsham’s nomad bee (Nomada marshamella) was found.
Badger Amongst Bluebells

By Karol Waszkiewicz

Description: Photo of “Badger amongst Bluebells” was taken at the beginning of May in the last rays of daylight. Badger left the sett and was exploring woodland in search of food. I spotted him first from a distance of about 50 meters on a forest track and saw him digging in soil looking for earthworms. I lay down on the ground, covered my camera and myself with camouflage net and patiently waited for badgers next moves. After a few minutes he decided to go down the forest track  almost straight at me and stopped in a patch of blooming Bluebells.

You might get an impression that  Badger is looking at me/spotted me but  it was only a split second when animal raised its head and looked around and then passed me from my right and headed to field nearby and never noticed of my presence as wind was blowing my direction and I used camouflage clothing and net as well as electronic/silent shutter in my camera. All together it was a very short meeting which lasted maybe 20-30 seconds but was truly memorable for me as not only I was lucky enough to see this spectacular animal  in daylight but secondly he stopped in front of my camera in a beautiful part of the wood covered by Bluebells.
Common Kingfisher

By Bogdan Pasca

Female kingfisher with a freshly caught minnow. The picture was taken on the river Dodder, I was wearing camouflage clothing and I was sitting in the bushes so the bird never spotted me.
Early Morning, Early Purple Orchid

By Helen McQuillan

Dew covered, white early purple orchid, with camouflaged crab spider stalking prey. Burren National Park, Gortlecka meadow.
In the Rough

By Anne Marie Mockler

Image taken in Allenwood, Kildare. I used my Canon 5d Mark iv and mobile phone for these shots. I adore watching wildlife and nature, studying their behaviour and relishing in their beauty.
Seal in the Surf

By Aoife Doyle

A small group of curious common seals swam alongside our dinghy as we came ashore for a day trip to the Saltee Islands in Co. Wexford. One seal pal was extra curious! I couldn’t believe how playful he was, splashing around in the surf. I quickly clambered over the rocks to the beach and grabbed my camera from by bag to take his photo.When I turned around, I was amazed to see him surfing a wave right up onto the beach to check us out. Luckily, I managed to capture the moment. Such an unexpected magical moment.
Shag, Great Saltee Island

By Tom Ormond
Corkwing Wrasse Portrait

By Libby Keatley

Male corkwing wrasse, Portaferry Co. Down
Red Blenny

By Maja Stankovski

The picture of juvenile red blenny was taken on Little Skellig, 30m below the surface and it shows the vibrant colours you can see underwater and rich diversity of the offshore islands. 

Comments from the Judges

Judges: Frank Miller, Former Picture Editor of the Irish Times and Nick Bradshaw, Photographer with the Irish Times

“We were really impressed with the standard of entries, which seems to improve each year. There were many impressive images which could have won prizes or been highly commended, but ultimately, we had to choose our favourites and here they are!

1st – Flying High, by Dan Lettice. For both of us this was the standout image of the competition, we absolutely love it. It speaks not just of a healthy marine biodiversity but of life and vitality and hope, a knockout image.

2nd – Corncrake Breaking Cover by John Murphy. Several of us have heard the unmistakable sound of the Corncrake, but how many of us have ever seen one, let alone taken a very clean image of one of Ireland’s most elusive birds. This is a lovely capture, with excellent focus on the bird, nicely framed by the softer focus elements of the environment.

3rd – Dueling Grebes by Suzanne Behan. There were several images in contention for third prize but this terrific study won out for the elegant poise of the action.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Bumble Bee by Chris Howes – a terrific colourful composition, the detail of the bee and the pollen in which it is covered lifts this picture above the ordinary.

Mating Ritual, Little Tern by John Murphy – a moment brilliantly captured, cleverly taken from a low angle to help the small birds stand out from their environment.

Meadow Pipit with varied Diet by Maureen Hastings – another really excellent study of two species, reflecting perfectly on biodiversity in an attractive composition.

Two’s Company by Rosemary Deevy – a delicate and quite beautiful study of two butterflies in their natural environment, a really lovely image.”

OCEAN PHOTOGRAPHY CATEGORY

Judge: Jack O’Donovan, Fair Seas Communications Officer

“Ocean and underwater photographs from the cold Atlantic are much more rare than colourful photos taken in warm tropical waters. In my opinion it takes more passion, effort and dedication to capture our native cold water marine species and I am amazed to see so many incredible entries to this years Ocean Photography category.

Winning image: Peek-a-Boo Pipefish, by Vanessa Keane.

What stood out about the winning photograph was the beautiful composition of the shot. The framing of the pipefish among the seaweed gives an insight into the small creatures world. I also love that the subject is a pipefish, a beautiful animal related to the seahorse, that can be found all along our shores and in rock pools.

As well as being a beautifully composed image, this photograph is a perfect example and inspiration of what lies in the most accessible waters to anyone curious about exploring our ocean.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Fjordia chriskaugei by Libby Keatley. To capture a moment of behaviour from such a tiny underwater creature is truly something special.”

Past Winners of our Photo Competitions – 2021

With over 1000 images submitted this decision was a tough one. A special congratulations goes to the photographers of the final 20 images shortlisted.

Judges Comments

Our judges this year were Frank Miller, former Photo Editor of the Irish Times, and Alan Betson, Photographer for the Irish Times. They shared the following comments about their choices.

“We were really, really very impressed with the standard of entries this year. There were some really lovely images entered and in all honesty at least ten entries merited serious consideration for prizes. In the end though we had to narrow it down and we settled on the charming picture of the duckling catching flies by Darrell Arnone as our overall winner. There were several reasons for this – first and foremost it is a delightful image, there is a sense of wonder as the young duckling comes to terms with it’s survival by catching its food, there is the beautiful texture and colours of the water and the magical summer light. But perhaps the clincher was that the image captures not just a single species trying to survive but the swarming flies and the interdependence of the natural world.

The second prize went to Dan Heap for a quite perfect image of a red squirrel taking a drink. The timing is perfect, catching the drops of water from the squirrel’s mouth and the perfectly composed reflection in the water adds to its impact.

Third prize goes to Chris Howes for Hungry Chick – another perfectly composed image with perfect timing too. The fact that the birds are each out on a limb of a bush with space between, together with the picture quality showing clearly the insect dinner being delivered makes this image an absolute winner.

Honourable Mentions. We could have picked ten but have narrowed it down to three. We loved the image of the Fox Moth by James O’Neill, the clarity and timing is extremely impressive and the upright composition adds to the power of the image. The Stand-off by Jonathan Rossborough is terrific. The Cuckoo’s “body language” is unmistakable and the Meadow Pippet holds back, a great capture of the engagement between the different birds. We loved Heron, Victoria Bay by Vivian Wynne Philips, it is a painterly image with wonderful subtle tones. The focus is perfect, highlighting the bird and the water while allowing the gentle tones of the watery environment to set the mood.”

Frank Miller – former Photo Editor for the Irish Times and Judge in this years competition

Featured image credit: John O’Brien