Canberra Nature Map Photographic Competition- Winners Announced

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Posted by MichaelBedingfield


Canberra Nature Map - Photographic Exhibition, CSIRO Discovery Centre 22 May – 27 June 2024

The winning images can be viewed at

Con Boekel's review in CityNews is at Photography's natural fit | Canberra CityNews

RiotACT article by Sally Hopman:

The best images of the Canberra region's wildlife will be on display at the CSIRO Discovery centre from 22 May – 27 June 2024. The images are the winners of the Canberra Nature Map photographic competition and join over 250,000 image sightings on the online NatureMapr platform. This site provides a comprehensive pictorial field guide to the life around us from flies to fungus, slime moulds to spiders, gum trees to goannas and all things in between.

Anne O’Hehir, the curator of photographs at the Australian National Gallery was taken by the winning entry of Trevor Rix’s Tawny Frogmouth as “the lighting is fabulous and it’s very painterly and really stunning and monumental.”

The plant passion of youth Ciaran Ernst-Russell is evident in his striking image of the critically endangered Summer Leek Orchid. An image that not only earned Ciaran the best photograph by an 18 year old or under, but adds to our knowledge of the distribution and abundance of this highly restricted plant.

As explained by Canberra Nature Map (NatureMapr) administrator Dr Michael Mulvaney “The purpose of the competition was to encourage people to place their stored images and social media postings of our regions wildlife on a site where their conservation, educational and research potential can be realised.”

The entries include a new regional location of the declining yellow-footed Antechinus, a small marsupial beautifully portrayed. Winner of the record of greatest conservation significance is the first ACT and NSW record of the highly Invasive weed Angled Heath (Erica quadrangularis). This infestation on Mt Taylor has now been eradicated. Of scientific note is Michael Quinn’s photo of what at first appears to be an image of mating Christmas Beetles, but actually includes a photo of a Scarab Pursuing Fly parasitising a Christmas Beetle.

The natural beauty all around us and skill of Canberra’s amateur photographers is stunningly portrayed by the exhibition, from Namadgi sunsets on the Alpine Sunray to the capture of a butterfly by a praying mantis. There are striking details in the emergence of a leaf hopper adult from nymph stage and the darker colours of the Veined Sun-orchid are exquisite.

It’s an exhibition to inspire joy and wonder. Digging out those past images that are just sitting around on the computer or smart phone when shared can mean so much to fellow residents and local conservation. 

Detailed Notes on Category Winners and Finalists

Overall Winner: Tawny Frogmouth by Trevor Rix (trevsci)

Anne O’Hehir is the curator of photographs at the Australian National Gallery and gets to see a lot of images in her working life. In selecting Trevor’s Tawny Frogmouth photograph as the best image entered in the competition, she was taken that “the lighting is fabulous and it’s very painterly and really stunning and monumental.” 

Not only was Trevor the overall winner, his Yellow-footed Antechinus image was the people’s choice of best image. He also won or was a finalist in several of the categories. He has generously proposed that the proceeds from the sale of his photographs will be donated to Canberra Nature Map. Thanks Trevor. Please contact Michael Mulvaney (02 62824778) if you would like to purchase a priced photograph.

Best image by a Youth (18 year old or younger): Summer Leek Orchid by Ciaran Ernst-Russell (tapirlord)

Ciaran’s passion for plants is evident in his splendid image of a Summer Leek Orchid (Prasophyllum canaliculatum), found in the heights of Namadgi National Park. 

Since about the age of 14 Ciaran has been identifying the plant images lodged by others on Canberra Nature Map. At first he was mentored by long-term botanists Betty Wood and Michael Mulvaney but his expertise grew rapidly and he is now the major plant moderator and authority.

There are half a dozen other moderators who began as mentored teenagers (or younger) who are now experts in their fields of spiders, beetles, birds and plants. Please contact Michael Mulvaney (02 62824778) if you also would like to take on a moderation role.

Best vertebrate Image: Yellow Footed Antechinus (Antechinus flavipes) by Trevor Rix

NatureMapr provides access to 66,000 animal vertebrate image sightings and 1.5 million vertebrate records. These include over 1million records from the Canberra Garden Bird Survey.

The Yellow Footed Antechinus (Antechinus flavipes), photographed by Trevor Rix, is a good segue to our data.  Access can be found to historic records of this species which appears to have become  extinct in the ACT around 1990, with recent records all coming from the Yass region. 

Runner's Up were Mark Jekobson’s image of Eastern Grey Kangaroos which reminds us of the beauty to be found and shared in the everyday, and the Eastern Quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus) by Jim Smith. The Eastern Quoll was once also locally extinct and Jim’s photo celebrates its return to Mulligans Flat and raises the hope of the successful return or rediscovery of our missing Antechinus. 

Best invertebrate image: Blue Banded Bee (Amegilla sp.) by Amie Lording (amiessmacro)

The Canberra region has a diverse and fascinating invertebrate fauna. One Mackellar resident has recorded over 750 different species of moth, on her house block.

The Blue Banded Bee (Amegilla sp.) pictured by Amie Lording is a buzz pollinator. Certain plants like Hibbertia and tomatoes hide pollen in capsules. Blue Banded Bees open these capsules by transferring vibrations through their body via rapid contraction of their indirect flight muscles. The Mantis Fly, pictured by Miranda Gardener, is actually a Lacewing. Adults use their long front legs to capture prey, like small flies. The larvae eat spider eggs. Cristy Froehlich has photographed a leafhopper adult emerging from the shell of one of its nymph forms. You can make out the straw like sucking mouth (between the front legs) which is stuck into plants and used to suck sap.

Best fungi or cryptogam image: Ghost Fungus (Omphalotus nidiformis) by Trevor Rix (trevsci)

Fungi consist of a network of thread like mycelium spreading through soil or wood. This network periodically bears a fruiting body, such as a mushroom, and it is the fruitbody that is photographed and identified in sightings.

Trevor Rix’s Ghost Fungus (Omphalotus nidiformis) is named after its soft ghostly glow that it emits most of the time, but is best seen in the dark. It is unknown why this fruitbody glows but experiments suggest it is not to attract insects. Ken Piper’s Ramaria fungus is a coral-like branching mushroom. This genus has been little studied, making most species identifications very tentative.

Helen Cross’s photo depicts well several of the identifying features of Grimmia. They are mostly dense cushion forming mosses on rocks. Species often have leaves with long hairlike extensions, with capsules borne on sort “swan-neck” like curving stalks.

Best plant image: Alpine Sunray (Leucochrysum alpinum) by Trevor Rix (trevsci)

2773 different types of plants have been recorded on Canberra Nature Map. About half of these are native and half exotic weeds or plantings. 

Our region has a diverse orchid flora, with as many species of orchids occurring on Black Mountain as the whole of the British Isles. Trevor Rix and Luke Hush capture two of our regions 200 orchids. The summer flowering Veined Sun Orchid (Thelymitra cyanea) is found in high mountain bogs, while the early spring flowering Broad-sepaled Leafy Greenhood (Bunochilus umbrinus) is found in dry open forests, and is only found in our region.

The winning image by Trevor Rix reflects the name of the plant depicted  - the Alpine Sunray (Leucochrysum alpinum).

Images of highest conservation significance: Angled Heath (Erica quadrangularis)  by Sharon Woods (Shazw)

An image of conservation significance is one whose posting brings about management action or greatly increases our wildlife knowledge. Canberra Nature Map receives a significant sighting daily. The power of having many eyes reporting what they see has transformed conservation within our region.

The three winners demonstrate the importance, scope and awesomeness of these sightings. Sharon Woods' Angled Heath (Erica quadrangularis) sighting, was the first time this high risk weed has been reported in the ACT or NSW. The infestation was eradicated. Michael  Quinn’s is the first ever image of  a scarab beetle fly in the act of parasitizing a Christmas Beetle. David Moore’s sighting identified a new location of the nationally threatened Bathurst Copper Butterfly (Paralucia spinifera). Prior to Naturemapr, it was though to be restricted to 30ha near Bathurst. Naturemaprs have found >1800ha of habitat.

Best habitat image: Eastern Rosella in Hollow by Chris Blunt

Determined by similar plant associations and location, the ACT region has around 70 vegetation communities, each providing differing habitat. Trevor Rix depicts the high mountain snowgum habitat of the Namadgi Tea-tree (Gaudium namadgiense), which is restricted to mountain summits straddling the ACT/NSW border in the Sentry Box - Scabby Range area.

Matthew Frawley has captured the lowland Box-Gum woodland habitat of the Hoary Sunray (Leucochrysum albicans subsp. tricolor). Although locally common, this subspecies is considered nationally endangered. Our region is a stronghold of this and many other lowland woodland species as our patches are amongst the largest remaining anywhere. 

Chris Blunt’s image of an Eastern Rosella nesting in a tree hollow reminds us that habitat diversity at the microscale is crucial and tree hollows are a big part of that.

Best image taken as part of the Pollinator Study: Mantis with Butterfly by Helen Cross

As part of the Canberra Urban Biodiversity Study, NatureMaprs recorded 2800 insect visitations to flowers at 45 specified points across Canberra. These are three of the most striking images recorded. Mantis with Butterfly by Helen Cross (Winner), Tebenna Moth by Katarina Christensen – (finalist) and Ichneumon Wasp by Jodie Reuter (finalist)

Urbanisation can have significant impacts on native insect pollinators. As Canberra grows and native vegetation is cleared for development, pollinator populations may decline due to habitat fragmentation, diminishing resources, and pesticide exposure. This can reduce pollination services and genetic diversity in plant and pollinator populations. The study is collecting data to better understand and redress the issue.

Analysis is underway, but 47% of all sightings were on yellow daisies and 24% on native white flowering shrubs, which is a clear guide to plantings, that will aid pollinators.

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