Melrose man in seabird finals – naturally

One of David Wolfenden's finalist photographs, Mountain Hare

One of David Wolfenden's finalist photographs, Mountain Hare

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A Melrose wildlife photographer is a finalist in the Scottish Seabird Centre nature photography competition.

A regular among the top contenders over the last few years, David Wolfenden from Bemersyde has three images shortlisted in the contest run by the award-winning centre at North Berwick.

Caterpillar in the Rain by amateur photographer David Wolfenden

Caterpillar in the Rain by amateur photographer David Wolfenden

Across two categories of the Nature Photography Awards, David’s finalist images include ‘Mountain Hare’ in the Scottish Wildlife section, while in Creative Visions of Nature there are ‘Caterpillar in the Rain’ and ‘Flying Whale’.

The retired business consultant said: “It’s fantastic to have three very different images shortlisted. My image of a hare was taken near Aviemore; the hare paused for a few seconds as it ran across the hillside and I was able to get this photo before it moved off.

“My image of a caterpillar was taken in an old pine wood in the Highlands after a rain shower. The hairs on this Fox Moth caterpillar had held the raindrops together and they acted as convex lenses, reflecting back images of my camera.

“In contrast, my whale image was photographed at dusk near Gretna during the annual autumn/winter starling roost. This murmuration of thousands of starlings was wheeling through the sky and displaying magical shapes – this image of a ‘flying whale’ was one of my favourites. It’s great that the judges loved this as much as I do and I hope the public vote!”

Flying Whale by David Wolfenden

Flying Whale by David Wolfenden

The centre said it had attracted record entries across the seven categories of the awards, now in their eighth year.

The judges were Lorne Gill, the award-winning official photographer at Scottish Natural Heritage, Innerleithen freelance photographer Graham Riddell and Scottish Field editor Richard Bath.

More than 100 images have been shortlisted and are on display in the centre’s Discovery Centre where voting is open until tomorrow (January 31): the image with the most public votes will also win the Public Choice award.

A member of the Edinburgh Photographic Society, David says he has only been taking photography seriously for the last five years.

He told us: “I’ve always had an interest in British wildlife and when I retired it gave me the opportunity to spend a bit more time on it and I got involved in photography as well as looking.

“You are capturing a picture of what happens as well as watching the animals or birds. You can capture that moment in time and look at it later; it’s almost a hunting instinct to bring something back.

“But the welfare of the animal always comes first and shouldn’t be compromised by any attempt to get an image.”

Included in the exhibition are other images from around the world such as a brown bear mother and her cubs in Alaska, a group of macaques taking a natural spa treatment in Japan and more local wildlife such as puffins, red squirrels, red deer and ospreys. Locations range from East Lothian and Perthshire to the Antarctic and Arizona.

Entries were received from amateur photographers across Scotland, the rest of the UK, and internationally, from Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Hungary and the USA.

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the centre on February 27.

For more information visit www.seabird.org