Best of July 2019

Best of July 2019 – latest highlights

We’ve added more than 1500 images to our site in the last month. Check out our July Highlights gallery to see our editor’s selection.

Here is a quick run-down on some of the main subjects included. Firstly, you’ll find endangered primates. Then we have wildlife from Italy’s Gran Paradiso National Park by David Pattyn. Next look for Cuban endemic species and a Japanese cat café by Karine Aigner. Also featured are London’s urban foxes and fascinating coverage on animal rescue and rehabilitation. Finally, we have Markus Varesvuo’s birds in action and more amazing images from Stefan Christmann of Emperor penguins. Read on to find out more about some of the new image sets…

Endangered primates

Several of our photogaphers have supplied some engaging new images of various endangered primates species. Eric Baccega has been working in Uganda, Suzi Eszterhas in Indonesia and Colombia, and in our full gallery you’ll also see species from Vietnam and Madagascar.

Eric Baccega has been photographing chimps in Uganda for the last 3 years. When he took this close-up of a young male, he asked himself who is the observer here? Is the photographer watching the chimpanzee, or is the chimpanzee watching this strange creature that has strayed into his forest? His shot of a young male gorilla was also taken in Uganda, from a distance of just two metres. Being able to approach so close to gorillas, Eric says, is one of the most amazing experiences for a wildlife photographer, particular when man and gorilla make eye contact.

We asked Suzi about her experience of working with cotton top tamarins – ‘to photograph the tamarins I worked with Proyecto Titi, an inspirational team of researchers and conservationists that are trying to save this species from extinction. Working with these tiny and endearing little primates was a true delight! My favorite thing about them is that all family members, including the males, take turns carrying the babies on their backs and caring for them.’

Rescuing tree kangaroos and other Australian wildlife

Jurgen Freund has shot some great images of Lumholtz Lodge in Queensland, Australia. Margit Cianelli worked as a zookeeper at Stuttgart Zoo in Germany, before moving to Australia more than 30 years ago to open her rehabilitation centre, which is also a bed and breakfast.

Jurgen and Stella Freund are full of admiration for the amazing woman who runs the lodge and rears orphaned and injured tree kangaroos and other Australian wildlife: “Our lovely friend Margit Cianelli runs the impeccably clean and special Lumholtz Lodge, her B&B in the Atherton Tablelands. In spite of the constant stream of wildlife sauntering in and out of her home! Her wildlife feels as much at ease in her lodge as her privileged guests throughout these many years of her B&B operation. We have spent many wonderful hours with Margit – wildlife carer extraordinaire. We’d often get a phone call from her and she will say, you’ll never guess what I have with me, teasing us to go and visit her.”

London’s urban foxes

Matt Maran has captured some amazing images of urban foxes around his home, going about their business in the gardens, allotments and streets of North London. Having travelled abroad extensively to exotic locations to view spectacular wildlife, Matt has turned his attention recently close to his home in North London to shoot a family of foxes.  As he explains. “The buzz I get photographing these animals is equal to shooting wildlife in famous National Parks across the globe. The allotment and surrounding streets is 10 minutes walk from my house so my carbon footprint is dramatically reduced too!” Matt tells us that his aim with these images was “to show the sensitive side of the fox and attempt to dispel the myths that they are vermin, cat killing creatures that will dig up your lawn and pooh on your doorstep out of spite. Urban foxes are like every animal, they need to find food, water and shelter. They rear young and patrol their territory and they’ve done this against the odds – living in cities alongside millions of people. ”

In order to tell this story, Matt has gained the trust of one fox family that enabled him to gather a range of images, from close-up portraits of them resting to wide angles showing the foxes in their habitat. Despite getting close to the foxes it’s not easy capturing behaviour shots, as they are on the move constantly and Matt was amazed at their ability to squeeze through small gaps, leap over tall fences with the agility of a cat and disappear from your view in a flash. In fact, as Matt explains, it’s this range of behaviour that keeps him intrigued and continuing to return and improve his photography.

Wildlife from David Pattyn – from the wetlands of the Netherlands to the Italian Alps and the coast of Ecuador

David Pattyn has submitted a brilliant variety of new images, including Great crested grebes near his home in the Netherlands, wildlife from Gran Paradiso National Park in Italy, including ibex and lammergeiers, and also South American coastal and rainforest species.

Gran Paradiso

David has travelled to Gran Paradiso many times in recent years, mainly in search of wildlife in winter conditions. He always tries to travel with a companion, as conditions can be challenging and sometimes dangerous with the risk of avalanches. Last year he was lucky to travel there twice in one week with one of his sons, who share his passion for wildlife photography. He always waits until the last moment before deciding when to go, preferring real winter conditions with snow, but winters are getting warmer in the Alps too. As David says, “I have a passion mainly for Ibex and Lammergeier, but any wildlife in good conditions gets my attention. It all comes down to spending enough time, going prepared and being patient  – and most of the time all that finally pays off!”

Grebes in the Netherlands

As there is not much wildlife left in the Netherlands, David prefers to focus on more common species there. Also, he loves being in a floating hide. Once in the water, it is like all the noise from the human world disappears! He has been using this technique now for more than 15 years now and is never bored. David tells us more about photographing Great crested grebes:

“Grebes have very interesting behaviour, from their spectacular courtship to the raising of their small chicks. At first the chicks are on the back of the mother or father to avoid cooling too much. Both parents are very dedicated to raising their young and remain territorial towards other grebes. Sometimes fights will happen with chicks around. After every fight they will mirror each other’s behaviour to show their commitment…just like in the courtship period. When raising their young I noticed they showed favoritism towards some chicks and attacked some of their own young when they came begging for food. Over the years I have made tens of thousands of images of grebes, but I am convinced that there is still more to be seen. I work with a conservation organisation in the Netherlands and have permission to leave my floating hides in their strict reserves, where no other people have access. That way the birds remain completely oblivious to my presence!”

Frigatebirds in Ecuador

David tells us more about his frigatebird action shots: “Last year we had a family holiday in Ecuador and stayed in Puerto Lopez, where we saw some very beautiful but also very sad things. Every day fishermen would bring in swordfish, sailfish and many sharks for their fins, even hammerheads. They got aggressive when we tried to take pictures so it was difficult. On the other hand, there were small boats landing on the beach with loads of fish and they were brought on land like you see in the pictures. The amounts of fish were huge and most fishermen just accepted that a small part of the catch was being stolen by the frigatebirds. To us it looked a bit like payback time … nature steals something back!”

Karine Aigner covers Cuba’s endemic species and a Japanese cat cafe

Meanwhile, US-based Karine Aigner has travelled to  Cuba and Japan. In Cuba she visited a number of reserves, including the Cienaga de Zapata National Park south-east of Havana which has a very rich flora and fauna including many endemic bird species. Her mission in Japan was quite different, photographing a cat café in Kyoto where people relax by playing with the resident cats and generally enjoying their company. The Kawaramati Cat Cafe is one of a number of such cafés in Kyoto and other major Japanese cities, catering for customers who are unable to keep pets at home.

Birds from Europe, Africa and Antarctica

Markus Varesvuo shows his continued mastery in photographing the birds of his native Finland and neighbouring Nordic countries, while Stefan Christmann has added to his rich portfolio of work covering the amazing life story of the Emperor penguin, adapted to survive the extreme weather conditions of the Antarctic winter. Eric Baccega has been photographing Shoebill storks in the swamps of Uganda. These bizarre prehistoric-looking birds are superbly adapted for fishing in murky waters. This female requires silence and concentration for fishing. Her binocular vision enables her to judge very precisely exactly where to find her prey.

Markus told us about the story behind his dynamic shot of jays fighting: “I took this photo at a feeder in the woods, where birds such as tits and jays get extra food from autumn through to spring, helping them through winter. Jays gather and store food for future use and autumn is an especially busy time for them, stocking up for the winter. Sometimes there are disputes over whose turn it is to set foot on the feeder. I was concealed in my hide and the jays were free to behave naturally. Had they spotted me, I think they would have been more cautious and unlikely to engage in these pecking order skirmishes, let alone food gathering.”

Stefan reveals exactly what is going on in his fascinating Emperor penguin shots:

“Once the emperor penguin chicks have grown to a certain size, their appetite becomes insatiable for the parents. While they were able to take turns feeding the youngsters at the beginning, at this stage they will have to leave their young behind and both head for the sea to collect enough fish and squid. The left-alone youngsters then gather in small kindergarten groups and organize themselves while their parents are away. The cute little fluffballs are not without any supervision though. Individual adults (and it’s still a mystery how they are chosen) will look out for groups of chicks and make sure they will not end up doing anything too crazy until their parents return. It’s a wild and busy time on the ice and you can tell that taking care of a bunch of young emperor chicks can be quite nerve-wrecking for the adults.

A certain time after the chicks have left their parents feet for the first time and become quite skilled at walking around they will take the chance and explore the sea ice on their own. This is a very cute time when all these little fluffballs are waddling around on the sea ice looking for anything that interests them. This is also the time when they start to interact with other chicks and forming first bonds with their peers, which will be crucial once they join their first kindergarten.”