In the world of photography, she’s flying high.
Caron Steele, from Worcestershire, has been named Bird Photographer of the Year 2019 for a jaw-dropping image of a Dalmatian pelican on a frozen lake in Greece entitled Dancing on Ice.
Bird Photographer of the Year Director and Competition Organiser Rob Read said ‘it had me leaping from my chair with joy the moment I saw it appear on my computer screen’.
Lots of other images impressed the judges too – and the very best of them have been compiled into a book, published by William Collins.
This lavish 256-page volume showcases the very best imagery from the competition and features the stories behind the images as told by the photographers themselves, plus all the technical camera information.
TV presenter and lead judge Chris Packham said: ‘Winning this competition is getting harder. And that’s the way it should be because photography is evolving more rapidly than ever.’ Scroll down and you’ll see what a tough job the panel had, because here we present the category prize-winners and runners-up.
This is the winning image from Caron Steele. She said: ‘On arriving in Greece to photograph the Dalmatian pelicans in their breeding plumage I discovered that Lake Kerkini, their favoured haunt, had frozen for the first time in 16 years. All the pelicans had flown off. Fortunately, a few holes started to thaw in the lake and the birds slowly began to return. Unused to the slippery icy surface of the lake they regaled us with hilarious antics as they slid across the lake surface trying to retain control as they took off and landed. I was lucky enough to capture one such rare moment when this magnificent pelican ran towards me across the ice at dusk before taking off. It was a truly unique experience, both magical and comical at the same time. And the image remains a moment of pure joy captured forever’. The picture swept the board. It won people’s choice and best portrait on top of earning Ms Steele the overall prize
This image of a Eurasian hoopoe, taken in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, earned German photographer Thomas Hinsche the best portfolio prize
This picture was also in Thomas Hinsche’s winning portfolio. It shows the moment a cormorant snagged a dwarf catfish in a national park in Hungary
Another superb image from Thomas Hinsche, this time of a black-crowned night heron
Thomas Hinsche took this picture of a buzzard in Saxony-Anhalt. He said: ‘A wonderfully soft light prevailed on this cold December morning and I was able to photograph this scene while lying hidden in a bush’
Thomas Hinsche took this image on the island of Helgoland. He said: ‘Often birds do not tolerate a close approach and this prevents impressive photos being taken. On Helgoland, however, the intimate nature of the place and the obliging birds can make for special encounters. Here this splendid drake eider’s flank feathers have been caught and ruffled by a tail wind’
Bence Máté from Hungary received an honourable mention in the bird behaviour category for this picture of great white egrets. He said he had been planning to shoot the creatures in the snow for more than ten years
Indian photographer Yashodhan Bhatia received an honourable mention in the garden and urban birds category for this image of rosy starlings at the Ujni Dam in Maharashtra, India. A slow shutter speed was used ‘to create a feeling of movement’
This image was taken in the state of Maranhão and earned Canadian Mark Peck an honourable mention in the birds in the environment category. He said: ‘As a thunderstorm threatened, I headed back to our shorebird research camp before the rain hit. Each day, the local fisherman would ride their bikes out to the shore and check their nets at low tide. Any fish caught would be placed in the baskets and then the bikes would be placed over the top to protect them from birds that were also fishing in the area. In this case, a great white egret patiently waits for the fisherman to return with his catch while a sanderling goes about his business’
Left is a picture of a rufous-tailed hummingbird in Costa Rica, snapped by Cat Edwardes from the UK. It received an honorable mention in the creative imagery category. On the right is a snowy owl in Saskatchewan, Canada, snapped by Canadian Chad Larsen. This image was a gold award winner in the garden and urban birds category
Mesmerising. This image of Eurasian starlings in the Negev Desert in Israel earned UK photographer Chris Gomersall an honourable mention in the garden and urban birds category
Jozsef Gergely, from Serbia, shot this picture of a grey heron in his home country and received a silver award in the bird behaviour category for it. It was taken at a fish farm. Jozsef said: ‘As you can imagine, the abundance of corralled fish acts like a magnet for fish-eating birds such as the grey heron. This particular individual caught my eye. Despite its size and bulk it was doing an extremely good job balancing on one of the fishing nets’
This picture of a common kingfisher was a silver award winner in the best portrait category and was snapped at a bus stop in Hertfordshire by Briton Ben Andrew. He said: ‘This image of a bold young Kingfisher was taken during the winter months. The bird spent time in the middle of a town centre, fishing around ornamental water gardens that are surrounded by shops, roads and a car park. The kingfisher regularly spent time perched on railings waiting to plunge into the water below. This spot was right next to the bus stop, so I positioned myself looking along the railings and waited for a bus to arrive. Luckily the buses in the town are blue in colour perfectly matching the Kingfisher’s plumage. So it was just a matter of waiting and hoping a bus came along with its lights on while the bird was sitting there!’
The Young Bird Photographer of the Year silver award went to American Madeline Nolan for this picture of a rufous hummingbird in Colorado
Tamas Koncz-Bisztricz, from Hungary, took this shot of a soda lake in his home country and is this year’s Young Bird Photographer of the Year
Cobalt-winged parakeets are the stars of this ‘birds in flight’ bronze-award shot, taken in Ecuador by Liron Gertsman from Canada. And it was quite an effort to get it. He said: ‘Scattered throughout the Amazon basin are hundreds of clay licks where parrots, parakeets and macaws come to eat clay and neutralize the acidic fruits that they eat. Getting to the clay lick (and watering hole) where I took this photo required a regional flight, a three-hour boat ride upstream, and a short canoe ride to get to base camp. From base camp, it took another short boat ride and a 30 minute hike each day to get to the clay lick. It took many hours of waiting over three days before we were treated to the sight of hundreds of cobalt-winged parakeets raining down on the forest floor. Seeing them and hearing the deafening roar of parakeet chatter was an experience I don’t think I’ll ever forget. After they drank the mineral rich-water and ate some clay, it was over. This photo captures the chaos as the parakeets took to the air. I used a slow shutter speed to convey movement’
This beautiful image of a long-tailed duck in Norway earned German photographer Martin Eschholz a bronze award in the garden and urban birds category
This cattle egret was snapped in Botswana by William Steel and earned him a bronze award in the best portrait category. He said: ‘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. 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 seen fading into the background, indicative of the species’ rapid decline’
Beak condition: Nikunj Patel from the U.S landed a gold award in the birds in flight category for this image of a black skimmer in New Jersey
This image of emperor penguins in Antarctica was taken by UK photographer Martin Grace, who earned a gold award in the inspirational encounters category for it. He said: ‘I shot a few images then put the camera away, and for 15 minutes it was just me, the emperors and heaven’
In the attention to detail category it was UK photographer Start Petch who was given the bronze award for this image of a Eurasian sparrowhawk. It shows the very finest feathers – the down – on a male sparrowhawk’s breast
An honourable mention in the best portrait category went to Spanish photographer Arturo de Frias for this picture of a Svalbard rock ptarmigan in Norway
Ariel Fields from Israel took this picture of a little owl and earned a young bird photographer of the year bronze award
Silver in the garden and urban birds category went to Canadian Meera Sulaiman for this picture of trumpeter swans in Ontario. ‘This part of Lake Ontario,’ the photographer said, ‘is regarded as the biggest toxic coal-tar deposit in Canada, a by-product of more than 100 years of industrial waste. Its claim to fame is being the largest and most contaminated site on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes. However, it is also a winter home for trumpeter Swans.’ They are one of the heaviest flying birds
An honourable mention in the attention to detail category went to U.S snapper Carolina Fraser for this picture of a great northern diver in British Columbia, Canada
Indian photographer Yashodhan Bhatia earned an honourable mention for this picture of a little swift on super-fast manoeuvres in Gujarat
This hypnotic image of a great egret in Sweden landed Swedish photographer Hans Olsson an honourable mention in the birds in the environment category
Open wide: A great white pelican opens wide for a fish at London zoo. This image earned Peruvian photographer Pedro Jarque Krebs an honourable mention in the creative imagery category
A welcome swallow in South Australia snapped by Georgina Steytler. It earned the Australian a silver award in the birds in flight category
This snap of a little egret in Hungary won silver in the attention to detail category for Csaba Tökölyi (left). Diana Andersen, from Australia, earned an honourable mention in the attention to detail category for this image of an Australian pelican (right)
The gold winner in the attention to detail category, shot in Norway by Pal Hermansen (left). Bird Photographer of the Year winner Caron Steel (right)