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Today lots of eager nature photographers and wildlife lovers will be excited to get a glimpse of the 67 commended wildlife images that have been selected by the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 competition judges.

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Paul Goldstein's Taking flight was photographed in the mists of Lake Nakuru, Kenya. It's one of the highly commended images in the Behaviour of Birds category among the 2011 entries.

Competition in the category awards is always fierce and not every image can be a winner or runner-up. But the judges like to acknowledge those that have been contenders with either a specially or highly commended recognition. And each year in the run-up to the winners announcement and the exhibition opening, we get the chance to preview these commended choices early. This year's commended selection includes these images from three British photographers.

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Territorial strut by Ross Hoddinott records a robin in the unusually cold spell last December in southern Britain. A highly commended image in the Animal Portraits category you'll be able to alight on at the exhibition.

Along with the as-yet-to-be-revealed winners, we think these images are among the best photos on the planet, and they've been handpicked from about 41,000 entries from 95 countries.

 

There are lots of bird images among the entries this year, I'm told. Maybe that's because birds are something that most people can photograph and get close to at home. Also I suspect because they are creatures that will never cease to beguile us with their mastery of flight and multitudinous feathery finery.

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Extreme foraging by Ron McCombe, another highly commended selection in the Behaviour of Birds category. It was taken on the snowy Scottish borders as a red grouse grappled with bitter East winds, recalled Ron.

Come and enjoy these photographs close up among the 108 images to feature in the exhibition when it opens from Friday 21 October in the Natural History Museum's Waterhouse gallery.

 

Read more about the commended images and this year's wildlife competition in the news story