The best wildlife photography can make the familiar appear strange, but it can also make the secret lives of animals feel quite comparable to our own.
Now, the British Wildlife Photography Awards have selected their winning photos for the 2023 competition. The following 21 images were selected from over 13,000 submitted, with photographers vying for a £5,000 (about $8,500) grand prize.
In the photos, you can see the biodiversity of the United Kingdom in sharp relief; from bees up close to birds from a distance, the country is teeming with animal life, even in urban, human-dominated spaces.
The runner-up shot in the Animal Behaviour category was this view of three male pikes courting a female (the fish farthest from view in this shot). The fish were spotted on a dive in a quarry in Stoney Cove, England.
“Hitching a Lift”
The winner of the Animal Behaviour category was this shot of several common toads in Cromarty, Scotland. A male aboard a female pushes away another eager male with his hind legs.
“Willughby’s Leafcutter Bee”
A leafcutter bee seems to stare back at the photographer through a hole in some wood in Staffordshire, England, in the runner-up shop from the Animal Portraits category.
“Sleeping with Dandelions”
A female red fox (Vulpes vulpes) took the winner’s medal in the Animal Portraits category. Here, the fox is seen covered in dandelion pappi (the plural of pappus, the proper term for dandelion fluff).
The runner-up in the Black & White category is this shot, taken from a boat at the cliffs of Bass Rock, Scotland. A gannet in the flocks on the cliff partly blots out the sun, in a stunning view of the island and its bird population, which has been stricken by the avian flu.
“Great Mell Fell”
The winner of the Black & White category is a gripping shot of the woods of England’s Lake District. Tree branches and limbs (both dead and alive) are eerie silhouettes in the otherworldly setting.
The runner-up image for the Botanical Britain category is this shot of a water droplet on a moss sporophyte in the snow. Light refracts through the water droplet, which is split down the middle by the stem of the sporophyte.
“A Poet’s Lunch”
The winner of the Botanical Britain cateogry is this picture of a carnivorous sundew, which has clamped onto an unfortunate horsefly. “There’s something poetic about the piece,” stated photographer Matt Doogue, “the horsefly, known for biting us, was ‘bitten’ by the Sundew.”
Photographer Kirsty Andrews snapped this shot of a bobtail squid at night under Paignton Pier in Devon, England. The squid’s remarkable coloration is especially vivid against the darkness of the sea water.
“Welcome to the Zoo(plankton)”
A plankton bloom off the coast of Scotland looks almost kaleidoscopic in this shot, which won the Coast & Marine category of the competition. The plankton seen here are zooplankton, as opposed to phytoplankton, as well as a bunch of jellyfish eager to gobble them down.
“Looking at You”
The runner-up of the Habitat category is this shot of a male (left) and female (right) hare in a blizzard.
“Stag by the Loch Side”
Talk about majestic. The winner of the Habitat category is this arresting shot of a stag, silhouetted by sunlight reflecting off the loch.
A vine weevil sitting a top a sprout of a potted plant won the “11 and under” category.
“What’s Over There?”
The 12- to 14-year-old category was won by this shot of a brown hare in a field. The rabbit came to eat some barley.
In this shot — the winner of the 15- to 17-year-old category — a tawny owlet rests on a large tree branch.
“Metallic Jumping Spider in Moss”
A jumping spider is dwarfed by petite moss plants, putting its small size in scale. This photo took the runner’s-up medal in the Hidden Britain category.
“Honey Bee Flight Trail”
The winning photo for the Hidden Britain category was this shot of honey bees’ light trails, essentially showing their paths through the night sky in Bristol.
Off of Brighton Pier on England’s southeast coast, a murmuration of starlings fly close to the surface of the water. This image was the runner-up in the Urban Wildlife Category.
“A Look to the Future….”
This photo of a fox in an industrial environment not only won the Urban Wildlife category but the overall grand prize. The photograph shows how wildlife remains in spite of human encroachment.
Taken in the early morning one August, this stunning photo shows mist swirling in the forest from a nearby hill. It was the runner-up in the Wild Woods category.
The winner of the Wild Woods category was this shot of beech trees on Badbury Hill, in Oxfordshire. The mist makes the environment both serene and mysterious.
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