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.
Cattle Egret. Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Botswana. Photographer: William Steel, United Kingdom/South Africa. Category: Best Portrait. BRONZE AWARD WINNER.
Photographer's Story: ‘A Southern White Rhino continues grazing unaware of the bounty on its head, as a Western Cattle Egret searches for insects flushed from the grass. This is a truly commensal relationship. The Rhino is indifferent to the presence of the bird, while the egret benefits from the Rhino’s movement and foraging: it unwittingly disturbs insects concealed in the grass. For me, the image is such an emotive depiction: a juxtaposition between dark and light, hope and uncertainty. While the Cattle Egret takes centre stage the Rhino can be see fading into the background, indicative of the species’ rapid decline.’Canon EOS 7D MkII with Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens. 562mm focal length; 1/2,000 second; f/6.3; ISO 500. Handheld.