2019 BirdWatching Photography Awards

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2019 BirdWatching Photography Awards Photo Contest Winners

First Place Peter Brannon

Limpkins

Location and date: Myakka River State Park, Sarasota, Florida, April 13, 2018.

Ever since I first witnessed Limpkins exhibit this behavior, I wanted to photograph it. Limpkins will occasionally erupt in an aerial “boxing match” when their feeding areas overlap. There were several challenges to getting this shot: Having to be fast enough to catch the action with little warning, and you are not always guaranteed a pleasing angle of the birds. These birds tend to forage in groups, so getting this capture with the two birds this isolated was very fortuitous. The water levels at the lake were ideal to try and get this shot. Lots of birds foraging for mollusks and a fair amount of interaction.

Gear and settings: Nikon D850; 500mm AF-S F/4D IF-ED lens; 1/3200 sec at ƒ/5.6; ISO 400; Handheld.

Second Place Carol Greiner

Western Grebes

Location and date: Pyramid Lake, Nevada, July 23, 2017.

This area of Pyramid Lake had been dry for years due to drought that reduced lake inflows to well below average. But the record-wet winter of 2016-17 resulted in high levels of snowmelt, and the area became covered with several feet of water. A local birder reported several hundred Western and Clark’s Grebe nests near the shoreline. I was able to photograph the grebes by standing near the lakeshore in several feet of water, wearing hip waders and using a tripod.

I made multiple trips to the lake, rising at 4 a.m. to get there by dawn. Frequent major brush wildfires in the area made it impossible to reach the area on many days. Unfortunately for the grebes, the tremendous snowpack runoff continued well beyond the normal peak, and the lake continued to rise through mid-July, gradually flooding most of the nests before the eggs could hatch; sadly, many eggs floated away despite the efforts of the grebe parents to build up the nest faster than the rising water. This nest was one of the few successful ones, and at least two chicks hatched. As soon as an egg hatches, the chick climbs on the back of a parent. This parent is arriving back at its nest and jumping back on it with the chick nestled in its feathers. Chicks sometime fell off during this maneuver, but quickly climbed back on. If the chick fell off in the water, the swimming parent would extend its leg to the side and the chick would use it to climb back on.

This wonderful opportunity to observe grebes close to shore has not reoccurred since 2017, likely due to the lake’s increased level. I feel quite fortunate to have had the opportunity to see many aspects of the grebes at close range, including courtship behaviors (“rushing” where two grebes run across the water surface, mimicking behavior, the “grass dance”); mating; aggressive chasing; and chick feeding.

Gear and settings: Canon EOS-1DX Mark II; Canon EF 600 mm f/4L IS II USM + Canon 1.4X extender, version III for a combined 840 mm focal length. 1/4000 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800, -1/3 EV; Really Right Stuff tripod.

Third Place Kim Caruso

Northern Cardinals

Location and date: Santa Clara Ranch, McCook, Texas, June 8, 2017.

The day started out as a steamy summer morning, already well on the way to 90+ degrees by 7 a.m. I was sitting in a sunken blind during a photo workshop waiting for local wildlife and birds to visit a small pond when a cardinal pair flew in and started to drink, bathe, and forage around the water’ edge.

Suddenly the male began to display and dance around the female in a behavior I had never seen before, so I started to rapidly fire off as many images as I could. Almost as soon as it began, the dancing stopped and they returned to foraging. When looking through photos at the end of the day, I saw this image and I knew it was special.

The gift of photography was so evident to me that day as I realized that it allowed me to share a special moment that I would never have appreciated otherwise.

Gear and settings: Canon EOS -1DX Mark II; EF500mm f/4 IS II USM + 1.4x III; 700mm; f/8.0, 1/2500, ISO 1000; auto WB, no flash; Gitzo Tripod with Gimbal head.

1st
prize

$1,000 cash prize

One (1) Zeiss Conquest HD 8×42 Binoculars

One (1) LOWA Locarno GTX Lo Hiking Shoes

One (1) X-Go Plus Tripod

One (1) one-year print and digital subscription to BirdWatching magazine

One (1) Hardcover, high-quality Bay Photo photo book featuring winners and all finalists

One (1) copy of Mastering Bird Photography: The Art, Craft, and Technique of Photographing Birds and Their Behavior by Marie Read

Choice of two ABA State Bird ID guides by Brian Small

Placement as BirdWatching Facebook Cover Photo

Publication in a special multi-spread feature in an issue of BirdWatching

Publication in the BirdWatching online Winners’ gallery

2nd
prize

$500 cash prize

One (1) Zeiss TERRA 8×42 Binoculars

One (1) one-year print and digital subscription to BirdWatching magazine

One (1) Hardcover, high-quality Bay Photo photo book featuring winners and all finalists

Choice of two ABA State Bird ID guides by Brian Small

Publication in a special multi-spread feature in an issue of BirdWatching

Publication in the BirdWatching online Winners’ gallery

1st
prize

$1,000 cash prize

One (1) Zeiss Conquest HD 8×42 Binoculars

One (1) LOWA Locarno GTX Lo Hiking Shoes

One (1) X-Go Plus Tripod

One (1) one-year print and digital subscription to BirdWatching magazine

One (1) Hardcover, high-quality Bay Photo photo book featuring winners and all finalists

One (1) copy of Mastering Bird Photography: The Art, Craft, and Technique of Photographing Birds and Their Behavior by Marie Read

Choice of two ABA State Bird ID guides by Brian Small

Placement as BirdWatching Facebook Cover Photo

Publication in a special multi-spread feature in an issue of BirdWatching

Publication in the BirdWatching online Winners’ gallery

3rd
prize

$250 cash prize

One (1) one-year print and digital subscription to BirdWatching magazine

One (1) Hardcover, high-quality Bay Photo photo book featuring winners and all finalists

Choice of two ABA State Bird ID guides by Brian Small

Publication in a special multi-spread feature in an issue of BirdWatching

Publication in the BirdWatching online Winners’ gallery

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