Fittleworth man’s photo of plum-sized bat wins national photography competition

A Fittleworth man’s photo of a plum-sized bat has won a national photography competition showing what Britain’s wild animals got up to during lockdown.

After amateur wildlife photographers from across the country rose to the challenge set by the Mammal Society, it was Daniel Whitby’s image of a lesser horseshoe bat that came out on top in the annual ‘Mammal Photographer of the Year’ contest.

Head judge of this year’s competition, ecologist and photographer Dr Brett Lewis, said: “In creating this amazing image, Daniel has achieved and shares with us an incredibly high standard of photography.

“One of Britain’s smaller species of bats, lesser horseshoes are about the size of a plum. Obtaining a photograph as sharp and as clear as this takes a lot of skill, as well as requiring sound knowledge of the subject.

Daniel Whitby from Fittleworth won this year's Mammal Photographer of the Year competition with his photo of a lesser horseshoe bat

“The subjects covered in this year’s selection of photographs include an array of species observed close to home, in our gardens or streets, in local parks or during permitted activities such as conducting voluntary surveys as part of national monitoring projects for protected species.”

Daniel is a highly regarded ecological consultant and bat scientist and he has a special licence that allows him to photograph bats as part of his ongoing research.

He said: “These bats are particularly small and fast, and can stay close to features and edges making them particularly difficult to photograph.”

Another of Daniel’s pictures of a bat was highly commeded in the competition, and his prize for winning is a day of photography at the British Wildlife Centre in Lingfield,Surrey and £100 of CEWE photographic printing vouchers.

Another of Daniel Whitby's photos which was highly commeded in the competition

Mammal Society chair, professor Fiona Mathews, said the society was once again ‘surprised and delighted’ by the entries received in its annual competition – particularly following what has been a challenging year for many.

She said: “Given that more people have been enjoying nature over the past twelve months we are pleased that we made the decision to go ahead with this year’s competition.

“Lockdown has highlighted just how much we all need and appreciate wildlife. We hope that this will continue long after the pandemic is over.”

The Mammal Photographer of the Year 2021 presentation and prize-giving will take place after the Mammal Society’s annual Cranbrook Memorial Lecture on the evening of Friday, April 16.

This year’s Lecture, entitled ‘Reasons to be Cheerful – the importance of optimism in conservation’ will take place online and will be given by Andrew Balmford, Professor of Conservation Science, University of Cambridge. The Lecture is free to attend but tickets must be booked in advance.

An exhibition of this year’s prize-winning and highly recommended photographs will take place at the Mammal Society’s Spring Conference which, this year, will be held online on Saturday, April 17.

Tickets are available to purchase at