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Red-Billed Oxpecker on buffalo wins annual birding photography contest

Alan Jones from Midlothian, Scotland with this winning image, Red-billed Oxpecker (Image credit: Alan Jones)

The Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers (SINWP) has announced the winners of the SINWP Bird Photographer of the Year 2021, which, now in its fourth year, is run in aid of the charity RSPB.

This year saw over 1,700 photographs entered from around the globe, and the images covered all wonders of the bird world from kingfishers, bald eagles, puffins and peacocks.

It was Alan Jones from Midlothian, Scotland who won the competition, with his shot of a Red-billed Oxpecker sat on a buffalo's face.

"The image was taken at Zimanga reserve in the Kwa-Zulu Natal region of South Africa, in the Eastern Cape," Alan says. "The reserve has some amazing hides which allows you to collect images at water hole level. This hide allows overnight sessions and is well equipped, even including wi-fi which allowed me to post images taken during the night on Facebook! 

The bird is a Red-billed Oxpecker, which is sitting on a buffalo's face. Oxpeckers feed exclusively on the bodies of large mammals. It seems the jury is still out on whether they do the animal more harm than good. The buffalo appears to tolerate oxpeckers while other species will not.''

Alan shot the image was taken with a Canon EOS 70D and Canon 100-400mm IS II USM lens at 100mm, using a manual exposure mode, 1/125sec at f/5.6, at ISO 1600.

2nd Place – Kevin Nash. Shot with Nikon D6 with  Nikon 500mm f/4 lens (Image credit: Kevin Nash)

3rd Place – Colin Bradshaw. Shot in Wiltshire, UK, with Nikon D850 and Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR AF-S. (Image credit: Colin Bradshaw)

View all the winning images and find out more on the SINWP website.

Lauren Scott

Lauren is the editor of Digital Photographer magazine, a practical-focused publication that inspires hobbyists and seasoned pros alike to take truly phenomenal shots and get the best results from their kit. 


An experienced photography journalist who has been covering the industry for over seven years, she has served as technique editor for both PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine

PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and DCW's sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine


In addition to techniques and tutorials that enable you to achieve great results from your cameras, lenses, tripods and other photography equipment, Lauren can regularly be found interviewing some of the biggest names in the industry, sharing tips and guides on subjects like landscape and wildlife photography, and raising awareness for subjects such as mental health and women in photography.