Photo of 'Invasive' Species Takes Contest's First Prize

A photograph by Doron Hoffman of a rose-ringed parakeet yesterday one first prize in the third annual photography competition in memory of ornithologist Amit Gefen. The contest is sponsored by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.

A selection of works by hundreds of photographers who participated in the competition were on display yesterday at an ornithology conference at Tel Aviv University. Hoffman snapped his photo of a rose-ringed parakeet, an invasive species in Israel that crowds out other species and endangers agriculture, in the fields of Moshav Elishama along the coastal plain. Some ornithologists were not pleased with the selection of a photograph that depicts an invasive species, but others said it increased awareness of the issue.

Yoav Perlman, of SPNI's ornithology center, who coordinated the competition and approved the choice, said there was evidence that species like the hoopoe and the woodpecker have suffered from the presence of invasive species like the rose-ringed parakeet.

Second prize went to Ilya Shalmiyev for his shot of a pair of Sardinian warblers, a small songbird common in the northern Negev, among other places.

A short-toed eagle, captured after a successful snake-hunt, was the subject of the third-prize photograph by Nissim Levi. The short-toed eagle zeroes in on its prey as it flies over open fields in the Judean lowlands, where its population is among the highest in the world, thanks to plentiful food sources.