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 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).
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”.