The winners of the 2019 Bird Photographer of the Year competition were announced today at BirdFair in the UK. Congratulations to overall winner Caron Steele from the UK for her striking image of a Dalmatian Pelican taken at Lake Kerkini in Greece, which has earned her this year’s title. The image also won the Best Portrait category of the competition and was voted the People’s Choice Award winner for the category earlier in the year.
“I cannot tell you how delighted I am to be announced as the winner of this fabulous competition,” Steele said. “It is wonderful to receive such recognition for something I absolutely love doing. I only took up photography seriously in 2014 when I got my first DSLR and since then I have been on a sharp learning curve. I did a zoology degree at the University of Oxford, but then went on to pursue other things. Now I love being able to get back to nature and see things through the perspective of my camera. I am so passionate about conservation and am keen to find an angle where I can help make a significant difference; winning this award has spurred me on to renew my efforts. In today’s hectic life I think it is vital we strive to save the beautiful natural world around us, as ultimately I believe it will save us. Photography and being at one with nature brings a sense of calm, joy and appreciation that can strip away the stresses of life. I recommend this therapy to everyone. Save your planet and save your soul: pick up a camera and get out there today and be as free as a bird!”
Heading an experienced panel of judges, naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham, comments on the competition: “Winning this competition is getting harder. And that’s the way it should be because photography is evolving more rapidly than ever: it is visibly edging closer to being able to facilitate perfection. Like life itself it has hardware – the cameras – and software – the information they collect – and we’ve gone from the Neolithic to the Nexus 6 in about 40 years.”
Chris continues, “The standard of photography has risen markedly yet again. We’ve had more entries from more photographers from more countries than before and critically we are very excited that we have a female winner. Yes! Yes! Yes! BPOTY is not only keeping up with the technology, it’s keeping up with the times, too.”
Please enjoy this collection of the winning images.
Dalmatian Pelican. Lake Kerkini, Greece. Photographer: Caron Steele, United Kingdom. Category: Best Portrait. PEOPLE’S CHOICE CATEGORY WINNER, GOLD AWARD WINNER AND BIRD PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR WINNER.
Photographer's Story: ‘On arriving in Greece to photograph the Dalmatian Pelicans in their breeding plumage I discovered that Lake Kerkini, their favoured haunt, had frozen for the first time in 16 years; all the pelicans had flown off. Fortunately, a few holes started to thaw in the lake and the birds slowly began to return. Unused to the slippery icy surface of the lake they regaled us with hilarious antics as they slid across the lake surface trying to retain control as they took off and landed. I was lucky enough to capture one such rare moment when this magnificent pelican ran towards me across the ice at dusk before taking off. It was a truly unique experience, both magical and comical at the same time. And the image remains a moment of pure joy captured forever.’