Photography success for Biosciences student

Cardiff University School of Biosciences student Adam Seward has snapped up two out of the five categories in this year’s British Ecological Society photographic competition.

Adam’s winning photographs were taken on Fair Isle, Britain’s most remote inhabited island.

His image of a puffin (Fratercula arctica) being released after having been colour ringed for population monitoring was voted the best entry in the Ecology in Action category by the panel of judges, while his photograph of wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) in a May snow shower won the Student category.

Adam said: “The pair of wheatears were within my study population on Fair Isle in 2010. They were being provided with supplementary food as part of an experiment on changing food availability, and so would approach very close. One day in May, there was a very short snow shower while I was topping up their feeder, and I took the chance to get a series of photos of the wheatears in the unusual conditions. I like the complementary poses of the birds, as well as the streaks of snow falling.”

“I also took the puffin photo on Fair Isle in 2010. It was a bit of fun really, with the puffin looking quite comical emerging from the bird bag – although I’m sure the puffin wouldn’t see it that way. The puffins were being ringed for a long-running population monitoring project,” he says.

Dr Rob Thomas, Adam’s PhD supervisor and a lecturer at the School of Biosciences, said: “Adam’s PhD research involves following migrating wheatears from Greenland and Shetland where they breed, to Senegal where they spend the winter. Along the way, Adam loves to use his photographic skills to illustrate his research work. These prize-winning shots show his signature style; using soft-focus foregrounds and backgrounds to highlight the detail and beauty of the birds.”

Adam’s research is funded by a Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Studentship from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The Studentship encourages students to enhance their training by spending between 3 to 18 months away from the academic environment.

During his field work Adam has followed the wheatear from Shetland and Greenland to Senegal, investigating how changes in food availability affect its breeding success, survival and migration strategies. After completing his thesis he wants to continue with research on the effects of environmental change on animal populations.

A full list of winners are available at

More on Adam’s photography and research can be read at:

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