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Beach, bush and backyard captured in Curtin photo competition

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Outback budgies, a coastal osprey and a backyard dragonfly captured by local photographers have won the top prizes in Curtin University’s inaugural National Science Week photo competition.

Scott McGregor's winning entry in the 'Beach' category.

The competition, which attracted entries from more than 850 amateur photographers of all ages from across the state, aimed to increase awareness of WA’s unique biodiversity in celebration of the International Year of Biodiversity and National Science Week.

Curtin Institute for Biodiversity and Climate Director and Associate Professor, Grant Wardell-Johnson said it was astonishing to see such a wide variety of Western Australian nature represented.

“We challenged photographers to capture iconic West Australian plants and animals in the much-loved habitats of the beach, the bush and their own backyards. The results were outstanding,” Associate Professor Wardell-Johnson said.

Chris Tate's winning entry in the 'Bush' category.

Winner of the beach category was Attadale local Scott McGregor with Osprey, a photo of a large aerial hawk, taken on the bank of the Swan River this year.

“This large aquatic hawk survives on a diet consisting of almost entirely of fish which it captures by plunging headlong into water, a task made easier courtesy of waterproof feathers and powerful feet with long claws,” Scott said.

Bunbury’s Chris Tate’s photo of wild budgerigars drinking water by a riverbank in the Gascoyne, titled Thirsty Work won the bush section.

“It was fascinating to watch hundreds of budgies, cockatiels and zebra finches who were wheeling in for a very quick drink as four or five falcons swooped around overhead trying to get a meal,” Chris said.

Heather Thorning's winning entry in the 'Backyard' category.

A close-up photo of a dragonfly hanging onto a native flower stamen in a suburban backyard won the backyard category.  The image, entitled Hang on, was taken by Heather Thorning of Bibra Lake.

“This little fellow was resting on the centre of a native flower in the backyard.  The photo was taken with a hand held camera and I was thrilled with the result,” Heather said.

Year 6 student from Kelmscott’s John Calvin School, Ashley Pot, won the student section with his photo of a spider in his backyard, titled Explorative spider.

“I took the photo of a spider in my backyard and I think the photo is really cool because I had to use a lens that can pick up very small details,” the 11-year-old Seville Grove local said.

Photographers could enter two photos in each of the three categories – beach, bush or backyard or the student section – for the chance to win an iPad by uploading photos to the website.

Ashley Pot's winning entry in the 'Student' category.

Members of the public could also vote for the People’s Choice award.  A close-up image of a striped bee, titled Australian Blue-Banded Bee by Magdeline Lum of Thornlie attracted the most votes.

“This shy native bee wasn’t anywhere peculiar, it was in my garden – evidence that biodiversity can start at home,” Magdeline said.

The winning photographs, along with a selection of highly commended images, will go on display at Scitech and in the Curtin Resources and Chemistry Precinct in mid-September.

National Science Week runs between 14 and 22 August and is designed to increase awareness and interest in science throughout Australia.

Magdeline Lum won the People's Choice award with this photo.

Contact: Denise Cahill; Media Consultant; Curtin; 08 9266 1931; 0401 103 683;

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