Eyecatchers are show-stopping and surprising standalone images from the natural world, accompanied by the photographers’ stories from behind the lens. Below is a sample from our latest selection. The full series can be viewed here.

Swoop – Danny Green

‘During the winter months, Kachemak Bay National Park in Alaska supports a high concentration of bald eagles, and is one of the best places in North America to see and photograph this American icon. Bald eagles, like most predators in the world, have historically suffered from persecution by man, which caused them to disappear from many areas. Thankfully, after years of protection, numbers have recovered and this emblematic bird can be found breeding again over most of its former range. In Kachemak Bay, the eagles are provided with supplementary food through the hardest part of the winter. Small fish are thrown from a boat, and the birds swoop down from their lofty perches to snatch the provisions from the surface of the ocean. This allows plenty of opportunities for photography – as long as you’re quick enough to track the fast-moving raptors in flight, whilst bobbing around in a small boat!’ (below left)

Night Breach – Tony Wu

‘The sun was low, just about to set, casting a warm yellow-orange glow across the ocean surface. A hint of a rainbow was developing on the horizon. I’d spent several hours with a group of humpback whales, engaged in their cooperative bubble-net feeding behaviour. It was time to call it day and head back home. Just before I did though, I thought to myself, ‘It would be so cool if a whale would breach in the gorgeous light.’ And boom! Not 30 seconds later, this whale obliged. The skipper steered our boat to spot ahead of the previous breach and we stopped. We waited. Then I heard a shriek from my right. I was of course facing left, with my camera down, none of my settings adjusted for the ambient conditions. Relying on sheer instinct and pure dumb luck, I swung around, lifted my camera, pointed and pressed the shutter release. I’d like to claim that years of practice, skill and preparation allowed me to capture this unique image of a humpback whale breaching at night, but honestly, I still don’t know how I got the shot!’ (above right)


Burn Scars – Jo-Anne McArthur

‘Three weeks after the December 2019 bushfires decimated Mallacoota in Australia, rescue teams were still searching for surviving animals who were injured and needed care. Miles of eucalyptus plantations, once teeming with wildlife, had fallen quiet. Dehydrated and hungry koalas clung to burnt trees. And on the forest floor, I spotted this eastern grey kangaroo,  carrying her joey. She stopped to look at me, framed by the fire-scarred forest and ash-blackened earth. Moments later, she hopped away, continuing her search for food.’ (below left)

Heat Death – Doug Gimesy

In late December 2019, over a period of just three days, around 4,500 grey-headed flying foxes died in Yarra Bend Park, outside of Melbourne. It wasn’t the flames or the smoke that killed them, it was the heat. Flying foxes can experience fatal heat stress when temperatures exceed 40°C, with some events causing mass deaths on a biblical scale. In December 2019, Australia broke its all-time temperature record twice. An average maximum of 40.9°C was recorded on 17 December, broken a day later by 41.9°C, both beating 2013’s record of 40.3°C. An unfortunate quirk of flying fox behaviour causes them to respond by ‘clumping’. As it gets hotter, they try to escape the heat and drying effects of the wind and sun by leaving the safety of their roosts in the branches of trees. Searching for relief, a distressed bat eventually lands on the lee side of a big tree trunk, closer to the ground, where it’s cooler. This seems to be a signal to other bats that a refuge has been found, prompting them to follow. A negative feedback loop results – too many bodies in a tight scrum equals a lot of body heat. Panting and dehydrated, the bats are too exhausted to move. One falls, and the rest cascade on the ground, crushing and suffocating each other. The ground at the photographer’s feet was already littered with many dead bats when he took this image. (above right)


Small Penguins, Big City – Dough Gimesy

‘On the St Kilda breakwater in Melbourne, Australia, lives a colony of little blue penguins – one of the only penguin colonies in the world that thrives next to a major city. My vision was to photograph penguins standing on top of the breakwater, with the city in the background. The first challenge was to gain access to a restricted part of the breakwater, where this composition would be possible. Then I had to determine where the penguins were most likely to stand. Once I had established the key spot, I set up the camera, pre-focused it and waited quietly in the hope that some penguins would come to the exact position I desired, climb to the top of rocks, and stand still for long enough that I could take their image! It took about 2 years in the planning, then about 30 nights wrapped in camouflage gear, to finally get this shot. I wanted to positively engage people, to stop them and get them to ask questions about the incredible wildlife on their doorstep. A common reaction I get is one of surprise… who would think that Melbourne has penguins?’ (below left)

Life or Death – Ingo Arndt

‘I spent seven months in the Torres del Paine region of Patagonia. My goal was to photograph the first story of wild pumas, from behind the lens – not just using camera traps. Every day I followed the pumas, until they got used to my presence. I was able to observe behaviour that has never been documented before, because the pumas trusted me. The key picture of the story was this one: a puma hunting a guanaco. Guanaco are the main prey for pumas in many areas of Patagonia, but to witness a hunt is incredibly rare. It was five months before I had the perfect situation, when a female cat tried to take down a fully grown male. The guanaco was huge, but the puma tried to kill it anyway. It almost succeeded too, but the very experienced guanaco was slamming the puma with all its weight, fighting for its life. The cat had a good grip on its neck, and was hanging on, but it lost contact momentarily, and the guanaco seized its chance to escape. The puma may have gone hungry, but I had all I wanted; a unique image of the puma in contact with the huge guanaco. The light was perfect, the background clear… you only get such a situation once in your life, a dream for every wildlife photographer!’ (above right)


Open Water Swimming – Alex Mustard

‘Mimic octopus are a benthic species – meaning that they occupy the seabed and rarely swim. I have seen hundreds of mimic octopus over the years, but only seen two swimming naturally. It’s not clear why they swim, but it might be to move large distances to a new feeding area, or it might be as predator avoidance. The main defence of this species is to confuse predators by pretending to be other species. The undulating swimming in this photo has been suggested to resemble a swimming crinoid – that few animals would want to eat.’ (below left)

Rehydration – Jack Dykinga

An area once desiccated and lifeless is benefiting from a new arrangement between the US and Mexican governments. For decades, the Colorado River Delta has been in decline, with dams diverting most of its water to thirsty cities and farms before it even has a chance to reach the Mexican border. Now, the redirection of water has restored nourishing flows all the way to the Gulf of California. Evidence of the fresh water flow is observable from the air, as plant life in the river delta turns green, bringing life back to the region. (above right)


Faith in Nature – Lucas Bustamante

‘Sri Lanka has more cultural heritage than any other country I’ve ever been to. As a wildlife photographer, one of the challenges in this location is to find the moments when animals and human culture intersect. This was one such moment when, at sunset, a troop of Toque Macaques traversed a huge Buddha statue.’ (below left)

Looking Like an Ass – Cyril Ruoso

‘How do you approach an animal you want to study, when that animal is wary of your presence? One solution – devised by these researchers in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert – is to dress like them! This prototype costume would have allowed the researchers to approach khulan (Mongolian wild ass) and observe them at close quarters… if it had worked! Studies on khulan biology and ecology are only just beginning. As a free-market economy continues to emerge in Mongolia, there is pressure from resource extraction interests and nomadic livestock herders to remove the khulan’s protected status. This endangered species is already affected by the impacts of mining activity, livestock farming and illegal hunting. Now, more than ever, khulan need research and conservation measures to brighten their future. Despite the gravity of the situation, it was impossible to keep a straight face when taking this image. Afterwards, I even tried the costume on myself!’ (above right)


Heron Grab – Phillip Price / SCOTLAND: The Big Picture

‘In the hopes of photographing Scotland’s birds of prey, I started baiting a local loch side spot with scraps of food. After many false starts, and about six months of waiting, the wildlife became accustomed to my camera trap. Interestingly, the herons started taking the bait as well, which offered new photographic opportunities. They are extremely well-adapted predators, with keen eyesight, and they never miss a trick! This picture is all about re-wilding; a vision of a more pristine Scotland, where woodland, water and wildlife belong together.’ (below left)

Lost Ball – Oscar Dewhurst

‘I spent several months following a family of foxes that lived on a golf course near me. They were incredibly tame, probably because they were being fed in some of the gardens bordering the course. During the autumn, one of that year’s cubs developed a habit of picking up golf balls and burying them in the long grass or bunkers. It would wait on the sidelines until someone hit a ball in its vicinity, before picking it up in its mouth and taking it to the bunker to bury it. This caused much amusement for people, although not if they were the one whose ball it had taken a liking to! Over the time I spent photographing the foxes, I was able to walk pretty much side-by-side as they behaved completely naturally, but it is still the set of images of them with golf balls that stand out for me as it’s something I feel I’m unlikely to see again!’ (above right)


Scale of Destruction – Lucas Bustamante

‘Ecuador has one of the highest deforestation rates in South America. The main habitat loss comes from the Chocó region, located in Western Ecuador. This ecosystem is one of the 25 global biodiversity ‘hotspots’ – biogeographic regions that are both significant reservoirs of biodiversity and threatened with destruction. The Ecuadorian part of the Chocó has less than 5% of its original vegetation still intact, with forests cleared to make space for oil palm crops, or due to timber or mining interests. All this makes the Ecuadorian Chocó one of the most threatened rainforests on the planet. This image shows a small part of a logging company’s headquarters. Every day, dozens of trucks fill these huge pools to wash the freshly-cut trees. The trees are so massive that a giant truck – as big as two buses put together – cannot carry more than 4 trunks at a time. Although the timber here looks like a collection of tiny toothpicks, the scale of deforestation is massive. Hundreds and thousands of 120 ft tall canopy trees, from one of the most biodiverse rainforests on Earth.’ (below left)

Blazing Trails – Konrad Wothe

‘On warm summer evenings, I often watch the fireflies in the forest near my home. Only the males can fly, weaving around each other as they perform their synchronised light displays. The worm-like, flightless females wait on the ground for the signal, and then respond by glowing themselves – thus, these insects find their potential mates. I thought it would make an arresting picture if I could gather all the flight tracks of the males into one single image. I left my camera shutter open so I could record the activity of the males over a period of one hour. The only problem was, with an exposure time of this length, the landscape would be totally overexposed. I was able to overcome this obstacle by shooting in ‘live composite’ mode. This meant the camera was shooting a series of images continuously, combining them all together into a single frame. The first image was used to record the ambient exposure of the landscape. After that, only the brighter pixels of the following images (i.e. the light trails) were added to the final image.’ (above right)


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