New Award-Winning Nature Photos Showcase Beauty and Chaos

New Award-Winning Nature Photos Showcase Beauty and Chaos

The natural world is filled with dramas that play out on the macro- and microscopic scales, in our cities and in remote wilderness alike. In the British Ecological Society’s annual photo competition, ‘Capturing Ecology,’ those activities take centre stage as flora and fauna of all sorts find a way to persist in every corner of the world. The following 24 images include all the competition’s winning photos as well as the highly commended images. Each showcases a different facet of the world’s wonder.

“Vibrant Sleep”

Photo: Viktor Nunes Peinemann

A dameselfish’s eye gives away its camouflaged presence within an orange-pink sea coral. This phoyo was the overall winner of the competition.

“Cranes Descending”

Photo: Doron Talmi

Cranes land amid a crowd of the migratory birds in Israel’s Hula Valley. This shot took the runner-up spot in the overall competition.

“Seemingly Beautiful But Actually Hostile”

Photo: Fayz Khan

The overall student winner was this aerial photograph of flamingos over an algae-covered lake in the Kenya Rift Valley.

“Resilience and Recovery”

Photo: Rebecca Nason

The winner of the Individuals and Populations (Animals) category was this shot of two Northern gannets. One of the gannets—the individual at right—has a large black eye due to a case of avian flu. “This striking feature has gone from visually representing death and destruction, to a more positive sign of strength, resilience and survival for our seabirds,” said photographer Rebecca Nason.

“Cusp of Chaos”

Photo: Brandon Guell

The student winner of the Individuals and Populations (Animals) category was this shot of gliding tree frogs laying their eggs on leaves in Costa Rica.

“Quiver Tree Forest”

Photo: Helen Burton

This shot of quiver trees in drought-stricken hills in Namibia won the Individuals and Populations (Plants and Fungi) category. “Although this landscape seems dominated by singular quiver trees, the reality is obscured by a shifting baseline,” said wildlife photographer Helen Burton, in a British Ecological Society release. “The broken remains of dozens of trees indicates this used to be a veritable forest.”

“A Golden Sea”

Photo: Samantha Suter

A forest of silver birch trees in Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park took home the student prize in Individuals and Populations (Plants and Fungi).

“Jackfruit Thief”

Photo: Dr SS Suresh

A Malabar giant squirrel snacks on jackfruit in this photo that won the Networks in Nature category of the competition.

“Garden Jungle”

Photo: Alicia Hayden

An ant descends a plant’s stem in a kitchen garden in Bristol. The image one the student Networks in Nature category.

“Nakuru Flamingoscape”

Photo: Nick Royle

The Bigger Picture category winner was this shot of flamingos on the shores of Kenya’s Lake Nakuru.

“Chromis and Corals in the Surge”

Photo: Viktor Nunes Peinemann

A school of chromis swim above Acropora corals in Papua New Guinea’s Kimbe Bay, in the winning student shot in the Bigger Picture category.

“Out for a good catch”

Photo: Prof Hans de Kroon

Ecologist Wilco Verberk and two students head into the North Sea to collect samples of the local wildlife. This shot won the Ecologists in Action category.

“The Big Count”

Photo: Danni Thompson

A group of people look at birds on Bass Rock in this student-winner from the Ecologists in Action category.

“Colour Coordination”

Photo: Alwin Hardenbol

The vibrant red and blue plumage of a crimson rosella matches the paint job on a replica airplane behind it. The image won the People and Nature category of the competition.

“Modern Real Estate”

Photo: Danni Thompson

If you squint at the center-left of this photo you’ll see three bird eggs in a nest laid amid trash and driftwood, in the People and Nature student winner shot. “The chicks’ first view of the world will be our mess and this image will stay with them for life as they leave the island and find their way into nearby towns and cities to feed on our abundant leftovers,” said photographer Danni Thompson.

“Hatching Inspection”

Photo: Doron Talmi

In this highly commended image, a staff member inspects a hatching farm of loggerhead sea turtles in Israel.

“Guillemot Jumping”

Photo: Samuel Langlois-Lopez

A guillemot chick leaps from a cliff on the Isle of May, Scotland, in its first flight to the water below.

“Colourful Darkness”

Photo: Alwin Hardenbol

This highly commended image submitted to the competition shows a regent bowerbird (Sericulus chrysocephalus) against a black background, showing off the bird’s bright orange and yellow plumage.

“Shared Apartments”

Photo: Alwin Hardenbol

A white stork and its chicks have a home atop this electric line, and house sparrows (bottom left) make their nests out of the stork nests. Hence the highly commended image’s title: “Shared Apartments.”

“Heath Illusions”

Photo: Sandra Angers-Blondin

If you squint, you can make out the image of the forest that surrounds this alpine heath in the water droplet dangling from the shrub.

“Blue Birches”

Photo: Sandra Angers-Blondin

A forest of birch trees in Scotland is covered in icy crystals in this highly commended image, giving the trees a bluish-white hue.

“Fastfood Delivery”

Photo: Sandra Angers-Blondin

A swallow passes a meal to its chick, hanging out on a line of barbed wire.


Photo: Danni Thompson

Fronds on a teasel curl up, in a shot reminiscent of a Tim Burton scene. The photographer, Danni Thompson, said in the society release that “I wanted to capture the delicate beauty of the curled fronds framing the flower heads, a gentler contrast to the spiky stems and seedheads, so I got low and close, framing the curls against the sky to make them pop.”

“The Entomologist”

Photo: Helen Burton

An aphid on the finger of an entomologist.

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