Ptarmigan plummeting over mountain wins Bird Photographer of the Year

Bird Photographer of the Year winners 2022
Rock Ptarmigan Flight - Taken using Nikon D850 with Nikon 70–200mm f/2.8 lens. (Image credit: © Erlend Haarberg / Bird Photographer of the Year)

Taking home the prestigious title of overall winner of the Bird Photographer of the Year competition 2022 is Norwegian photographer, Erlend Haarberg. His image of an elegant rock ptarmigan bird taking flight in winter plumage was taken above beautiful snow-covered mountains situated in Tysfjord, Norway.

The winning images from the world's largest bird photography competition have been revealed, and they really are a sight to see! Elevating the genre to a whole new level, these images are truly peck-tacular.

Check out the best lenses for bird photography.

Photographers from all over the world entered the Bird Photographer of the Year competition with more than 20,000 images submitted to the competition, each with their Eagle eyes on the £5,000 grand prize! 

Winners of the Bird POTY 2022 were announced this evening via an awards ceremony held at the Paintworks building in Bristol, hosted by wildlife TV presenter Lizzie Daly, and live-streamed to YouTube. The image above scooped the win featuring a snow-colored rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) in mid-soar. 

"On this particular winter day, I was on my way to a mountain top by Tysfjorden to photograph landscapes. I had almost reached the summit when I spotted some ptarmigan tracks crisscrossing between the rocks, where the wind had uncovered some sparse vegetation." shared winning photographer, Erlend Haarberg.

He continues, "From behind a rock, a small head appeared, and seconds later it took to the wing with the mountains and Fjord landscape in the background, setting the scene perfectly". The image also won gold in the Birds in the Environment category.

Sleeping Beauty - Shot using Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Canon 100–400mm f/4.5–5.6 II lens (Image credit: © Andy Pollard / Bird Photographer of the Year)

Categories for the competition included: Attention to Detail, Best Portrait, Bird Behaviour, Birds in Flight, Birds in the Environment, Black and White, Creative Imagery, Urban Birds, 14-17 Years (age category), 9-13 Years (age category), and finally the 8 and Under (age category). There was also a Conservation Award, PortfolioAward, and Video Award.

Winning gold in the Attention to Detail category was Andy Pollard from the Falkland Islands, with his adorable image (above) of a brown sleeping King Penguin chick. The Best Portrait category winner of the gold award was US-based photographer Ly Dang, with their image titled 'Strut Performer' of a Sage Grouse flaunting feathers. 

Strut Performer - Using: Sony A1 with Sony 600mm f/4 GM lens and 1.4x teleconverter (Image credit: © Ly Dang / Bird Photographer of the Year)

The title of Young Bird Photographer of the Year 2022 was awarded to 17-year-old Swiss photographer, Levi Fitze, for his image of a dunlin bird struggling against a sandstorm. The image also won Levi gold in the 14-17 age category and was captured using a Sony A7R IV with a Sony 400mm f/2.8 GM lens.

The 9-13 age category was won by Parham Pourahmad from the US with a beautiful image of a Hummingbird surrounded by water droplets from a fountain. The 8 and Under category winner was Arjun Jenigiri, also from the US, with their image of a Barred Owl captured at the Acadia National Park in Maine.

Facing the Storm - Young Bird POTY winner (Image credit: © Levi Fitze / Bird Photographer of the Year)

The Black and White category winner, Henley Spiers, was recently crowned the winner of the HIPA Nature competition, receiving a staggering $120,000 prize for his image of a Gannett seabird swimming in a shower of bubbles. 

This time, however, British photographer, Henley, has struck gold with his image of a Double-crested Cormorant about to dive into a school of fish. The image is breathtakingly beautiful, captured in Mexico.

Between Two Worlds - Captured using: Nikon D850 with Nikon 28–70mm f/3.5–4.5 lens. (Image credit: © Henley Spiers / Bird Photographer of the Year)

“Once again our talented photographers have cast a light on the incredible diversity of bird life that we share our planet with,” says Will Nicholls, Director of Bird Photographer of the Year. 

He continues, “But it is also a stark reminder of what we stand to lose if we don’t continue to look after the natural world and fight for its protection from the many threats that exist today.” 

Droplets - Captured with Nikon D3500 with Sigma 150–600mm f/5–6.3 lens. (Image credit: © Parham Pourahmad / Bird Photographer of the Year)

One of my favorite images (see below) was captured by Janine Lee from the UK, taking home silver in the Creative Imagery category, and features a Dalmatian Pelican and Greater Flamingo stealing the fisherman's catch. The image was composited together using various elements, but the end result is beautiful and therefore deserves a mention in my opinion. Outstanding work. 

"The scenery, Dalmatian Pelicans and Greater Flamingos were at beautiful Lake Kerkini in Greece, and the old boat was one I spotted on the Norfolk coastline. I bought fish from my local market and photographed them at home, along with an old lantern from my garden. I used my editing software to bring everything together and balance the light, shadows, and color tones." Shared Janine.

Fishy Business - Composite: Nikon D7200 with Tokina 11–16mm f/2.8 lens. (Image credit: © Janine Lee / Bird Photographer of the Year)

If you love photo books, and bird photography, be sure to preorder a copy of the competition's own coffee-table book, Collection 7, featuring well over 200 of the best images from this year's competition in a stunning 256-page book published by William Collins. Expected to publish on September 15, the foreword of the hardback photo book has been provided by naturalist and TV explorer Steve Backshall.

The BOTY 2023 edition of the competition will open for entries tomorrow, September 09, 2022, until the closing deadline of December 11, 2022. 

Hoot Are You? - Captured with Canon EOS 700D with Canon 55–250mm f/4–5.6 lens. (Image credit: © Arjun Jenigiri / Bird Photographer of the Year)

You may also be interested in our guides to the best bird feeder cameras, as well as the best camera for wildlife photography, and also check out these 6 easy steps for better bird photography, and learn whether you or not you should use a full frame or cropped sensor camera for bird photography.

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.