British mammal photo contest winners

April 3, 2014 • 12:19 pm

by Greg Mayer

The Mammal Society, a membership society devoted to the conservation and scientific study of the mammals of the British Isles, has recently released the top photos from its second annual Mammal Photographer of the Year awards, and there are quite a few absolutely fabulous photos in the competition. This year’s first-prize winner is Stuart Scott for a brown hare (Lepus  europaeus).

Brown hare by Stuart Scott.
Brown hare by Stuart Scott.

Brown hares were introduced into Britain during Iron Age times; they generally live further south in Britain, and at lower elevations, than the native mountain hare (Lepus timidus).

My favorite finalist, which was ranked “highly commended” by the Mammal Society judges, is this vole with English oak acorns (Quercus robur; you can tell it’s English oak by the pedunculate acorns). (Voles were among my earliest interests here at WEIT; you can read up on the British ones at Darren Naish’s Tetrapod Zoology).

Bank (?) vole by Phil Winter.
Bank or field vole by Phil Winter.

I’m not sure if it’s a bank vole (Myodes glareolus) or a field vole (Microtus agrestis). The easiest way to tell the two apart is that bank voles have longer tails, which can’t be seen in this photo. Bank voles are a richer brown, and eat more seeds, which makes me lean bank, but the small ears are more “fieldy“: I hope some naturalist readers in Britain can enlighten us!

The rest of the winners, plus the winners and finalists from the 2013 competition, can all be seen on the Mammal Society’s flickr page. There are several sets, and they are quite worthwhile browsing through. The BBC also has some of the photos, including some not on the flickr page– my favorite of these is the young Sam Baylis‘s picture of a water vole (Arvicola terrestris) holding some vegetation in its ‘hands”.

Water vole by Sam Baylis
Water vole by Sam Baylis.

14 thoughts on “British mammal photo contest winners

  1. I can’t see why the winning photo won.
    If I had taken it, I would have deleted it.
    The artistic photo of rabbits crossing the field at the horizon is a far better shot.

      1. There is a show of which I forget the name which documents a family in the English countryside and they film these cute river voles. I think voles are so cute and I wish I could get such lovely photos!

      2. They used to be common along streams and rivers throughout much of the uk but have declined very seriously. One of the causes of this decline is believed to be predation by naturalised mink which have escaped from fur farms (in some cases the mink were deliberately released by misguided animal-rights activists – I am not saying that fur farms are a good thing but that the activists created another serious problem through their actions).
        Water voles are sometimes known as water rats and the character ‘Ratty’ in the Wind in the Willows was a water vole.
        As the picture shows they are very charming animals and their disappearance from many streams is a great tragedy.

  2. The water vole reminds me of my favorite local small mammal, the Cotton Rat (S. hispidus). It lives in all the tropical and much of the temperate areas of north and south America. We call it a cotton rat in the southern US because it is often found in hedgerows and fencelines at the edges of cotton fields. They like to gather cotton after the harvest and make little tunnels out of cotton woven with twigs and grass so they can travel from their nests to cache sites without being seen by hawks or owls.

    1. And just like that i can only see blood stained fur and hear agonizing noises….
      It is a great movie, though xD

  3. I have a vole skull – I will send a picture – it really is tiny & very delicate. It is facsinating how teeth of voles & other small rodents are used to date glaciations – we can guess the climate from the type of teeth found. Microscope required!

    1. Um – facsinating? Is that when you contaminate something with an interesting idea? FASCINATING! Sorry…

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