Although I have lived in England all of my life, I have travelled a great deal and been exceptionally lucky to see some absolutely incredible wildlife, right across the world. With the memories of these exotic beauties in my mind, I think it’s probably natural to feel that Britain is left wanting when it comes to enigmatic fauna.
But then again, every so often I come across something that re-minds and re-amazes me just how much diversity we actually have, and how harsh my aforementioned critical analysis probably is. To win the most prestigious accolades for wildlife photography (on my bucket list), I may need a camera slightly better than the frankly awful smartphone I possess (currently sporting a smashed screen, which can’t help), but I don’t necessarily need to leave this little island. The current British Wildlife Photographer Awards prove I wouldn’t even need to leave my garden (if I didn’t live in London and could afford a property that had one). Squirrels are one of my favourite animals in Britain and luckily for me I get to see big fat fluffy grey ones nearly every day (yes yes, they’re not endemic… Doesn’t mean they’re not cute). Check out these epic photography skills, taken THROUGH a window no less:
Fortunately for the world of exhibitions and all things aesthetic, there are a whole lot of people with the skills, patience, equipment, and know how that I am apparently lacking. Currently on display at the Horniman Museum and Gardens (which has a lot of squirrels fyi, if you’re also a lover) is the British Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition, showcasing some of the best photographs taken of British animals, plants and environments in 2017.
The exhibition contains some very charismatic images including swans that appear to be auditioning for the boy band of the avian world, and a mountain hare with an appendage so gargantuan, it must surely have been the inspiration behind Thumper the Rabbit. In a couple of comical ones for which you can barely avoid superimposing thought bubbles in your mind; check out the snail and spider web by Paula Cooper called ‘Web of life’, and the stag and jackdaw by Duncan Eames, called ‘What do you mean it doesn’t suit me?’, for example. The jackdaw and stag are clearly talking to each other.
I have two personal favourites (in case you’re in a hurry when you go and need some recommendations) including the aforementioned stag by Duncan Eames. The second is an image by Jan Galko in the Close to Nature category, which brought the sting of tears to my eyes. You’ll have to see it for yourself to understand why, as a picture tells a thousand words. (Although the captions are very useful too).
If you’re now feeling the urge to see the exhibition, it’s currently on at the Horniman Museum and Gardens for another nine days, aaaaaaand it’s free. There’s even a squirrel. And it’s not even grey.
Written by Dr Emma-Louise Nicholls, Deputy Keeper of Natural History at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, and NatSCA Blog Manager
* Apologies to the Corvids for originally calling the jackdaw a raven