WPY 2012

Photograph Details

Specially commended 2012

Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Species

Ofer Levy, Israel/Australia

Fly-by drinking

The grey-headed flying fox is the largest bat in Australia – and one of the most vulnerable. Once abundant, there are now only around 300,000 left. The main threats include loss of habitat, extreme-temperature events and human persecution (roosting in numbers, eating cultivated fruit and an undeserved reputation for bearing disease brings it into conflict with people). The bat is now protected throughout its range, but its future remains uncertain. Ofer spent several days in Parramatta Park in New South Wales photographing the bat’s extraordinary drinking behaviour. ‘At dusk, it swoops low over the water, skimming the surface with its belly and chest,’ he says. ‘Then, as it flies off, it licks the drops off its wet fur.’ To photograph this in daylight, Ofer had to be in the right position on a very hot day, with the sun and the wind in the right direction, and hope a bat would be thirsty enough to risk drinking. ‘This required standing in chest-deep water with the camera and lens on a tripod for three hours a day for about a week in temperatures of more than 40 degrees.’

Technical specification

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV + 600mm f4 lens; 1/1250 sec at f4; ISO 1250; Miller tripod + Arrow 25 fluid head.

Parramatta Park, New South Wales, Australia: latitude -33.8119, longitude 150.999 Parramatta Park, New South Wales, Australia: latitude -33.8119, longitude 150.999

Parramatta Park, New South Wales, Australia

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