POISED with its wings spread out in the air, the gannet was the ideal subject for Javier Martin’s photograph.
Javier Martin’s picture of a gannet in flight won the summer round of the Wild Scotland Photography Competition
The image, captured by the Spanish photographer, who has lived in the UK for 14 years, has scooped the top prize in the summer round of the Wild Scotland Photography Competition.
Mr Martin will now be enjoying a wildlife watch boat trip off Largs with Cumbrae Voyages, courtesy of Wild Scotland, the Scottish wildlife tourism operators’ association.
"I have been taking nature photographs for the last four years and this has become a real passion – more than a hobby," said Mr Martin.
"I have travelled to Scandinavia, Florida, Ireland, Spain and the Falklands but Scotland has been the location where I developed this passion because it offers unique opportunities for nature photography with stunning landscapes, wild birds and mammals painted by magic light in a very special environment.
"For photographing sea birds, Shetland is a paradise."
Mr Martin took his gannet photograph in July using a Canon EOS 1D Mark II with a Canon EF 100-400mm lens.
The runner-up in the summer contest was Anita Stokes, from London, who took her photograph of a red squirrel peeking around a tree while on holiday in July, at Glenfeshie.
Red squirrel pictured by Anita Stokes
Pete Cairns, the noted wildlife photographer, whose work can be seen at www.northshots.com was the judge for the Wild Scotland competition.
He said: "The standard for this competition was particularly high and the decision was certainly not clear-cut.
"Many of the pictures submitted were of familiar subjects but both Javier and Anita have provided a fresh perspective. The back-lighting of the gannet flying against a dark cliff face is exquisite and Javier has captured a stunning image.
"Anita’s red squirrel is just full of humour," he added.
Caroline Warburton, Wild Scotland’s marketing manager, said: "We had a great response to the summer photography competition and it has been really interesting to see the broad range of subjects that people have chosen, from flowers to insects to birds to dolphins.
"Hopefully our competition winners will inspire people to go exploring and perhaps get their cameras out too. Maybe submit an entry for our autumn competition?"
She added: "Speaking to our members around the country, it seems that, whereas the weather may have dampened our spirits, wildlife sightings have been good this year.
"However we have heard reports that some of the seabird colonies have struggled, with numbers down on previous years. Whether this is due to the climate, changes in food or a combination of the both is still to be discovered.
"We’re now getting ready for autumn activity, such as the red deer rutting and the birth of grey seal pups. There’s never a dull moment when you’re a wildlife-watcher."
The autumn Wild Scotland photography competition is now under way: the closing date is 23 November. The theme for the contest is "autumn nature: getting ready for winter".
The winner will get to use one of the all-weather photography hides at Rothiemurchus Fishery, in the Cairngorms, where Scotsman photographer Ian Rutherford captured his excellent osprey images, which featured in the June Wildlife Watch.
The winning picture will be revealed in The Scotsman and will also feature on the Wild Scotland website.
As well as entering photographs for the autumn Wild Scotland competition, readers can also send in pictures taken this coming weekend to the Scotsman Wildlife Watch, run in association with the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Biological Recording in Scotland.