Urban walrus and fighting frogs: The charming winners of the 2024 British Wildlife Photography Awards

Urban walrus and fighting frogs: The charming winners of the 2024 British Wildlife Photography Awards

An alert hare, clinging barnacles, and a sly fox on an urban prowl were all honored.


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a walrus lays on the cement in front of boats at night

“What’s All the Fuss About?” In this photograph, the Arctic walrus who had come ashore to rest on the harbour slipway in
Scarborough has lifted its head as a car passed on Foreshore Road. The image is lit by the
streetlights to the left and features the town’s fishing boats in the background. Despite being
taken handheld at 1/80th of a second at f/1.6, an ISO of 6400 was still needed to properly expose Thor and the slipway at 2:28am. Will Palmer, Urban Wildlife | Runner-up

A fascinating photograph of a barnacle-covered soccer ball that traveled thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean took home top honors at the 2024 British Wildlife Photography Awards this month. Photographer Ryan Stalker snapped the image near the shores of Dorset, saying: “Although the ball is waste and should not be in the sea, I do wonder about the journey the ball has been on. From initially being lost, then spending time in the tropics where the barnacles are native and perhaps years in the open ocean before arriving in Dorset.”

The photograph beat out 14,000 other entries across 10 categories to be named the Grand Prize Winner.

a soccer ball floats on the water. under the waterline are dozens of barnacles attached to the bottom of the ball
“Ocean Drifter.” Ocean Drifter is a photo of a football that is covered in goose barnacles below the waterline. Above the water is just a football. But below the waterline is a colony of creatures. The football was washed up in Dorset after making a huge ocean journey across the Atlantic and then returned to the sea for the photo to be taken. Goose

barnacles are not native to the UK but can wash up on our shores during powerful Atlantic storms. Although the ball is waste and should not be in the sea, I do wonder about the journey the ball has been on. From initially being lost, then spending time in the tropics where the barnacles are native and perhaps years in the open ocean before arriving in Dorset. However, this waste can also bring creatures that may survive in UK waters and could become invasive species. More human waste in the sea could increase the risk of more creatures making it to our shores. Image: © Ryan Stalker, British Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2024 and Winner of Coast & Marine

“The British Wildlife Photography Awards brings to light the spectacular tapestry of Britain’s natural heritage,” said Will Nicholls, Director of BWPA. “This collection is more than just a gallery of images; it is a celebration, a reminder of the enduring beauty of British wildlife and a call to preserve the natural spaces that we are so fortunate to have in Britain.”

a white-spotted black bird light with purple light on a black background
“Starling at Night.” I had been observing the birds in my garden as they fed on sunflower seeds and peanuts from

the feeder for some time. I aimed to capture the sense of movement and flight patterns in my

images while still preserving the fine details of the birds. To achieve this, I used flash in rear curtain sync mode. Timing was crucial, and I needed to carefully balance the flash with the ambient light to record the starling’s trail at the beginning of the exposure, while a brief burst of flash would freeze the bird in mid-flight. Image: © Mark Williams/British Wildlife Photography Awards, Animal Portraits | Winner
three frog heads poking out of the water
“Three Frogs in Amplexus.” Every March, our garden ponds suddenly come alive with hundreds of frogs that seem to appear overnight from nowhere. I have been photographing them for many years, and I am always fascinated and amused by their antics. Here, there has been a competition to mate with a female. For a lot of the time there is a frenzy of activity, but sometimes they freeze long enough to get a shot. The image is taken with the lens at water level, and the background is a distant larch tree. Image: © Ian Mason/British Wildlife Photography Awards, Animal Behaviour | Winner
a fox walks on a concrete wall with the sun reflecting behind her
“Day Walker.” This vixen had taken up residence in an electricity substation after being pushed out of her

parental territory. The fenced-off area provided her with a quiet place to rest away from the busy city. She would often walk along this wall, and I was able to capture this photo through the gaps in the metal fencing, while making the most of some striking lens flare. Image: © Simon Withyman/British Wildlife Photography Awards, Urban Wildlife | Winner
Animals photo
“Running on Water.” I woke up at 4:45am with the hope of capturing backlit waterfowl images at Frensham Pond in Surrey. I lay down at the edge of the pond and waited for the birds to become active. As the morning progressed, rays of sunlight began to shine through trees along the edge of the pond, creating spotlights in the morning mist. This created a beautiful atmosphere, which I aimed to capture in my images. This coot was fleeing a fight, running across the water to take flight through the mist and rays of light. Image: © Max Wood/British Wildlife Photography Awards, RSPB Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2024 and 15-17 Years Winner
a fox walks on a branch
“The Tightrope Walker.” In this image, you can see a red fox walking along a tree branch at a considerable height from the ground, demonstrating that these animals are true tightrope walkers of nature. The fox is perfectly framed between the branches and its silhouette is subtly highlighted by the sun’s rays falling on it. Image: © Daniel Valverde Fernandez/British Wildlife Photography Awards, Habitat | Winner

silhouette of two birds on an orange background
“Dancing in the Dark.” ‘Dancing in the Dark’ portrays a pair of great crested grebes engaged in their courtship ritual at sunrise. This carefully choreographed dance serves to strengthen their bonds during the mating season. The photo was captured in the early hours on an urban lake in North Tyneside – once a former mining site, now thriving with wildlife, it hosts up to four separate pairs of grebes, competing for territory and displaying their flamboyant courtship style. Spending considerable time with these birds, I’ve learned to anticipate their courtship ‘dances’ and be prepared to capture these beautiful moments. Image: © Matthew Glover/British Wildlife Photography Awards, Animal Behaviour | Runner-up
a white and orange butterfly sits on a piece of grass
“Three’s a Crowd.” I think I have a slight addiction to photographing blue butterflies – I just love them! They are such beautiful little insects, and they enhance any wildflower meadow or garden they inhabit. Blues are quite social insects, and they can often be found roosting quite close together – or even on the same grass or flower. I found a dozen or so blues all resting close together one evening last summer. Using a shallow depth of field, I decided to ‘frame’ my subject with two out- of-focus butterflies to help add impact and context to my shot. The warm, evening light produced a vibrant natural background. Image: © Ross Hoddinott/British Wildlife Photography Awards, Hidden Britain | Winner

a brown hare looks at the camera in a field of golden grass
“Sunrise Hare.” I’m fortunate enough to have access to a private farm and have spent a lot of time with

brown hares over the past couple of years. During this time, I’ve invested many hours into developing fieldcraft and gaining a good understanding of their behaviour, allowing me to get close without disturbing the animal – hares are often skittish. For this image, I lay low and silent in a spot of the field they tend to follow from the hedgerow. This hare was very relaxed and allowed me to capture some portraits as the sun was starting to rise over the field. Image: © Spencer Burrows/British Wildlife Photography Awards, Animal Portraits | Runner-up
a mother deer stands in front of her fawn in a grass field, both looking at the camera
“Mother and Fawn.” Walking through the woods, I spotted this roe doe grazing the foliage. Slowly, I crept towards her, careful not to startle her. To my delight, when she turned round, I saw a small fawn staring back at me! Keeping quiet, I raised the camera to take some photos, then swiftly left so I didn’t disturb the young fawn and mother any longer. It was an incredible experience to see a ‘humbug’ patterned fawn before it loses its spots, and it was a magical experience to get so close. Image: © Felix Walker-Nix/British Wildlife Photography Awards, 12-14 years | Winner
balloon-like plants on a pink background
“Tiny Forest Balloons.” The world of slime moulds is fascinating. They’re neither plants nor fungi. I had never noticed them before, but when I set out to find some to photograph, I discovered that, if conditions are right, they’re everywhere! They’re just so small that if you are not looking for them you will simply overlook them. Each head on these fruiting bodies is approximately 1mm wide, and the depth of field when shooting at such high magnification is so shallow that focus stacking is required. This image was made using 160 images, each focused on a different area of the scene, then stacked together to create one highly detailed image. Image: ©Jason McCombe/British Wildlife Photography Awards, Botanical Britain | Winner

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