Bird Photographer of the Year, an annual international photo competition based in the U.K., is accepting entries for its 2020 competition through November 30. BirdWatching contributor Brian Small and I are two of the judges, and while we wait for the judging process to begin in December, I thought it would be fun to share photos of North American birds that have been honored in past years of the contest. The images in the following slideshow have been submitted over the last four years of the contest. Enjoy!
Tyler Reber shot this image of a Green Heron at Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina. The photo was Commended in the Birds in the Environment category in 2018.
"Green Herons are a pretty common sight on the east coast of the U.S. and a species I have photographed numerous times over the years," he says. "I have captured plenty of images I like a lot, and it has gotten tough to find new and interesting ways to show them off. That changed when I found a few of them hanging out off the boardwalk at Huntington Beach State Park. When I first saw this one in particular, it was sneaking around in a very dramatic-looking oyster bed. Initially I was a bit upset, because the boardwalk at this location sits pretty high above everything, leaving little option for getting a lower (eye-level) angle. My only chance was to lie down and try to shoot through the very bottom slat of the side fence. I doubted this would actually work as the last slat of wood covered almost the top 50 percent of the lens hood, even when pressed right up against it. I snapped a few quick test shots, and much to my amazement, they actually looked fine. Excitedly, I moved into position in front of the now prey-locked heron and waited. It looked right at me and I snapped a few more shots, capturing this one, which I just love. The glare… the way the reflection of its eye is peeking out from behind one of the foreground oysters… it all just really works."
Equipment and settings: Canon EOS 5D Mk III with Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM lens. Focal length 500mm; 1/800 second; f/4;ISO 800.