The winners of the latest Bird Photographer of the Year competition have been announced, and let's just say that if you were hoping for some jaw-droppingly spectacular bird shots then you won't be disappointed.
The well-deserved winning image (above) is of a Dalmatian Pelican taken at a frozen Lake Kerkini in Greece, entitled 'Dancing on Ice'. It was photographed by UK-based Caron Steele, who wins the top prize of £5,000 and the title 'Bird Photographer of the Year 2019'.
"I cannot tell you how delighted I am to be announced as the winner of this fabulous competition," says Caron. "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.
BPOTY Director and Competition Organizer Rob Read commented on the photo, "‘Dancing on Ice’ is an image that had me leaping from my chair with joy the moment I saw it appear on my computer screen. All too frequently the judges see images where the photographers have fabulous photographic opportunities that they fail to make the most of. Lake Kerkini rarely freezes over and Caron certainly made the most of this virtually unique opportunity."
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However, Steele's image wasn't the only shot that impressed the judges. Thomas Hinsche from Germany won the Best Portfolio 2019 award for his six images (see gallery above), receiving an Olympus OM-D E-M1 MKII and an M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 IS PRO lens (with a combined value of £3,500).
If you're a keen bird photographer who would like to enter next year's competition, entries will open on 18 August and will close on 30 November 2019. With prizes worth over £20,000, you'll be in with a chance of winning binoculars from Swarovski Optik, a camera system from Olympus, gimbal tripod heads from Gitzo and a top prize of £5,000.
Rob Read says "We now have a new website which will become a useful resource for photographers, birders, naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts, centered on the competition itself.
"The core principles of promoting bird photography and the photographers themselves, while helping conservation through raising money and awareness, remain the bedrock of BPOTY. The new website will help us achieve these aims, using some of the world’s best bird imagery to inspire people to care.”
This year's competition raised money for Hookpod, an innovative solution that has the potential to eliminate the unnecessary deaths of albatrosses and other seabirds killed as a result of longline fishing. The 2020 competition will be establishing a BPOTY Conservation Fund, which will enable BPOTY to assist other conservation projects like Hookpod.
If you'd like to see more of the winning images, check out next year's competition or purchase the competition book (RRP £25), check out the Bird Photographer of the Year's website.