Sydney-Based Photographer Represented in Prestigious Wildlife Exhibition

23 June 2013

It took wildlife photographer Ofer Levy three years of perseverance and patience to capture his hero image of an endangered Flying Fox drinking in Sydney's Parramatta River.

"The Flying Fox only drink at dusk when they go out to look for food. They don't usually drink during the day. But when the temperatures are high enough, then they will drink during the day. I knew this is how they behave so I was waiting for the opportunity. We don't have many 40 degree days in Sydney. It took me three years to get this image. In late January 2011 I got lucky. The temperature was high enough for the bats to perform this behaviour, and the light and the wind was right. Even so, it took me a week of standing in the Parramatta River for three hours a day to capture this image," said Ofer.

 Fly-by drinking by Ofer Levy/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

Dubbed Fly-by drinking, Ofer's Flying Fox image was judged highly commended in the endangered species category of the coveted Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards, which are presented by the British National History Museum and BBC Worldwide. The annual collection, which in 2012 featured 100 awe-inspiring images of nature including Emperor Penguins in Antarctica, a Giant Otter in Peru, a Lemur in Madagascar and Bengal Tiger Cubs in India is currently on a worldwide tour. Australians have the opportunity of admiring the photographs now - they are on display at the Australian Museum in Sydney.

For Ofer, however, being recognised in this prestigious competition is all about drawing attention to the plight of the Flying Fox.

"I live in Sydney and it's hard to not to notice the Flying Fox in Sydney. At night you see them everywhere. I was fascinated by them - to see them flying every evening. I did a lot of high definition video camera work with them. And that's how I got to know them very well. I knew what photography opportunities I had with them," he said.

"There is a crisis with everything that concerns the Flying Fox. They are an endangered species in Australia. Their population is declining at a rate which is catastrophic. I feel it's my mission to help the battle to keep this species with us because if this trend continues, in 70 years they will be gone forever because they only live in Australia. Twenty years ago there were 20 million. Today there are roughly 300,000 to 400,000. We are witnessing an extinction. The bats need our help."

Ofer's fascination with wildlife began when he was three years old growing up in Israel; he relishes the opportunity of spending time in nature. He is particularly interested in capturing birds on film. For Ofer, it's all about the challenge; he says that birds are particularly difficult to photograph because they can be quite tiny and very unpredictable. But the rewards are always great - with so many colourful birds providing beautiful photo opportunities.

 Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher captured at Julatten, Queensland. Image courtesy of Ofer Levy.

"I went to Kingfisher Park, which is a Birdwatchers Lodge in Julatten in Tropical North Queensland to capture the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher. They nest in terminate mounds on the ground. It was a challenge to get close enough to get the picture. I also went to O'Reilly's in the Lamington National Park so that I could photograph the Bower Bird. O'Reilly's feed the birds, so you don't have to go far; the birds come to you. This bird and many other species eat off your hand," said Ofer.

 Bower Bird captured at O'Reilly's, Queensland. Image courtesy of Ofer Levy.

"In Broome, I went to the Broome Bird Observatory on Roebuck Bay where I caught Wader Birds before they left to breed in Asia. They congregate in their masses on the beach, which is spectacular. This October I'm going to take pictures of the Australian Bustard in Queensland. It's not going to be simple because I want to photograph the male bird when they're displaying. You can't get too close, they're not tame. It's hard core nature photography. It will involve crawling on the ground and camouflage."

When Flight Centre asked Ofer where his favourite holiday destination he responded - anywhere that will keep his family entertained and will fulfil his desire to capture wildlife.

"I relax when I take my pictures. I take my family with me and they have fun in the pool and I get to take pictures. O'Reilly's was magnificent though. It's great for the whole family."

 

The Australian Museum in Sydney presents the annual international Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012, from 8 June - 7 October, 2013.

Lyndon Barnett

Guided by curiosity and a sense of adventure, Lyndon travelled independently to 69 countries on six continents. As such, travel is Lyndon's only addiction. He enjoys with equal measure - scaling the peaks of a South American mountain at altitude, attending opera in a European Opera House or hunting for a bargain in an Asian market.