Łukasz Bożycki / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014
It was a freezing January night when Łukasz found the three abandoned bunkers, built by Germans in the Second World War. He was working in the Puszcza Piska Forest, northern Poland, with his friend Piotr Tomasik, studying overwintering bats. For a week, they slept on the floor of an abandoned house. The bunkers were warmer – just above zero – though Łukasz couldn’t stop himself shivering. Inside were hibernating Daubenton’s bats, in complete torpor (one breath per 90 minutes).
To emphasize the eerie atmosphere, Łukasz set his camera to a cool-white balance and used his flashlight to illuminate one bat that was hanging from the ceiling, while Piotr lit the doorway with his light. ‘The trek back to the car a distance away in severe cold was a challenge,’ says Łukasz, who came down with pneumonia shortly afterwards. Sadly, Piotr later died. This picture is dedicated to him.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is co-owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide.