Makoto Ando's Image

Makoto spent hours hiding behind a tree in the hope of seeing this owl couple pose or perform. Then a squirrel appeared. It approached the owls’ nesthole and peered in before suddenly leaping away and speeding into the forest, as if realising its mistake. With equally quick reactions, Makoto framed the squirrel’s frenzied escape under the owls’ watchful gaze.

Ural owls prey on small mammals, including red squirrels. The red squirrels on Hokkaido have characteristically tufted ears, bushy tails and grey-tinged winter coats. In other regions, grey squirrels have outcompeted red. They have also spread a virus that is more likely to kill red squirrels than grey.

Behind the lens

Makoto Ando

Makoto Ando


Makoto is a master guide recognised by the Governor of Hokkaido, Japan, and is a photographer and videographer. He mainly works in eastern Hokkaido Shiretoko, Akan Mashu National Park, Kushiro Marshland and Alaska.

Image details

  • Nikon D850
  • 400mm f2.8 lens
  • 1/1250 at f8  •   ISO 400  •   Gitzo tripod + Sachtler head
  • Tsurui, Hokkaido, Japan
Copyright in WPY competition photographs remains the property of the respective photographers. You may not copy, share, reproduce or republish the photographs except as expressly permitted by copyright law. For media image usage enquiries, please contact us.

Support our important work

Help us harness the power of photography to advance scientific knowledge, spread awareness of important issues and nurture a global love for nature.

Donate now

Discover more

Sign up to our newsletter

Receive email updates about Wildlife Photographer of the Year news, events, science, products, services and fundraising activities. We may occasionally include third-party content from our corporate partners and other museums. We will not share your personal details with these third parties. You must be over the age of 13. Privacy notice.