New biodiversity photo exhibit celebrates Irish wildlife

Published by Niall Sargent on

July 9th, 2019

Ireland’s leading amateur nature and wildlife photographers were celebrated at the launch of Ireland’s Biodiversity Photographer of the Year exhibition today.

Over 350 entries were received for the annual photo competition as part of National Biodiversity Week (NBW) which took place in May to celebrate Irish biodiversity and highlight how crucial it is that we protect it. Teh week is organised by the Irish Environmental Network and is supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The exhibition of winners and shortlisted finalists were chosen by the former picture editor at The Irish Times, Frank Miller and will now go on display at the Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun for the summer.

This year’s winning entry was a patient action shot by Suzanne Behan that captured the decisive moment of the elaborate mating display of the great crested grebe in Co Cavan, a species almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century for it head plumes used to decorate hats.

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“The great crested grebe is the largest member of the grebe family and is known for its elaborate mating displays, watching these birds is such thrill and thankfully they are successfully breading in Ireland like this pair spotted on a lake in Co Cavan,” Ms Behan said.

Suzanne took home the People’s Choice Awards last year for her photo of a juvenile pine marten, one of Ireland’s rarest and most elusive wildlife species.

She said that, especially today, wildlife and nature are “very much a necessity for me” as she heads into the fifth year of her battle with high-grade stromal sarcoma, a rare, aggressive and quick spreading disease.

“When you are struggling with the effects of cancer and its harsh treatments, heading off to a quiet place to forget about the world for a few hours is better than therapy money can buy. It’s very peaceful and I hope more local councils realise the benefits of nature as a healing tool”

Suzanne recently had the opportunity to seek the advice and knowledge of doctors in Boston’s leading Sarcoma treatment hospital, and is raising funds to support her ongoing medical & living costs. Details are available here:

Naoise McManus (l), Suzanne Behan (c) and Mike Lavery (r) Photo: Niall Sargent
Naoise McManus (l), Suzanne Behan (c) and Mike Lavery (r) Photo: Niall Sargent

Second place was awarded to a “thrilled” Mike Lavery from Ennis, Co Clare for his action shot of ducklings about to take a leap of faith and take flight.

Mr Lavery said: “I spend a lot of time in the Burren National Park, even before I picked up photography. The lunar-like landscape always attracted me and still does to this day. It was the Burren that pushed me to get a camera in the end as I wanted to capture and show off the beautiful nature I witness on a weekly basis.

“Nature photography is capturing what you see to be truly amazing and beautiful in this world and presenting it to whoever is willing to stop and look at it, hopefully inspiring them to get out and enjoy the natural world too,” he added.

Thomas Ormond took third place for her abstract image of a Mayfly emerging from from Lough Corrib. He said: “In late April and throughout the month of May large numbers of mayfly emerge from Lough Corrib. They normally take flight within seconds of appearing but luckily this one got trapped in the surface film just long enough to capture this image.”

The competition was also open to secondary school students, with Naoise McManus scooping first place for his close-up image of a dewy leaf. Second place was taken by Maria Alomar Quetglas for her profile shot of a frog emerging through grass blades, and third place went to Karolina Solecka for her photo of a resting ladybird.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London