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.
Black Skimmer. Ocean City, New Jersey, United States of America. Photographer: Nikunj Patel, United States of America. Category: Birds in Flight. GOLD AWARD WINNER.
Photographer's Story: ‘Black Skimmers are one of my favorite birds and I love spending time in the summer observing and photographing them. Skimmers have a light and elegant flight, with steady wingbeats. They fly low over water and dip their lower mandible just below the surface, feeling for tiny fish and snapping them up with deadly speed, and making high-speed turns in mid-flight. On a nice summer evening, I arrived at a colony of nesting seabirds on a beach to photograph Black Skimmers flying in, bringing fish for the new-born chicks. I decided to set up low on the beach as it would give me an eye-level perspective with the birds. A few skimmers had gathered at the edge of the shoreline and were having a vigorous bathing session. As some of them took off, I saw one flying low and straight towards me. Luckily, I was able to acquire focus, press the shutter and capture a beautiful image of the bird flying straight at me. Black Skimmers rely on open beaches for nesting and raising their young, with direct access to the water for feeding. Coastal development and our own love of the same beaches have left them with few safe places to nest. The image was captured in the summer of 2018 at Ocean City, New Jersey, USA. The Black Skimmer is an endangered species in the state of New Jersey.’Nikon D850 with Nikon 600mm f/4 lens. 600mm focal length; 1/3,200 second; f/5.6; ISO 250. Tripod.