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UK Photographer Wins International Bird Photography Competition

Gianpiero Ferrari's captivating shot of a fieldfare in his garden earns top honors in the Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers' competition.
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A festive photo taken in a back garden in Leicestershire has won an international bird photography competition.

Gianpiero Ferrari beat more than 1,750 pictures from all over the world to win the Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers’ Bird Photographer of the Year in aid of RSPB.

Some of the other finalists included penguins in Antarctica, a bee-eater in Botswana, owls in Canada and a stand-off between an eagle and fox in Spain.

Gianpiero had to lie down in the snow in order to get his winning shot of the fieldfare in his garden.

Very Highly Commended: Brian Jones – swallows feeding in Australia. Gianpiero Ferrari beat more than 1,750 pictures from all over the world to win the Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers’ Bird Photographer of the Year in aid of RSPB. PHOTO BY BRIAN JONES/SWNS

He said: “The shot is from my home garden. After a snowfall during the night, several fieldfare came in the garden to take advantage of the apple that I provided.

“This one was very aggressive and took over the entire garden chasing away all the other birds. I started to take some pictures from the house through a window, but I was not happy with the composition.

“I thought a ground level composition would have been much better. So first I had to build a pile of snow to use as a background and then lay on the ground under a camouflage blanket, waiting for the bird to return to eat the apples’’.

Runner-up was American engineer Robert Gloeckner, 37, with his pic of a crane chick snuggled up to its mother.

He said: “I watched this nest in Trinity, Florida for quiet some time when finally a Sandhill Crane Colt appeared, tucked in, feeling the warmth of its mother. It couldn’t be more than a day old.

“Even at such a young age, they leave the nest and explore the surroundings with their parents.

“I waited patiently on the side of the little pond where the nest was located. Upon their return to the nest, the colts were tired and disappeared in their mothers feathers, when suddenly one of them peeked out.

Runner up: Robert Gloeckner – Sandhill Crane and chick in Florida. Gianpiero had to lie down in the snow in order to get his winning shot of the fieldfare in his garden. PHOTO BY ROBERT GLOECKNER/SWNS 

“This image perfectly shows the love between a parent and their offspring.

“Returning a couple days later the colts were gone and the parents were searching for them in the area. Nature can be cruel.”

Placed third was Kevin Rooney, 57, from near Cheltenham who captured an oxpecker on the nose of a buffalo in Africa.

The aerospace worker said: “The picture was taken in Naboisho Conservancy which is a private extension of the Masai Mara in Kenya.

“We were on safari and came across a large herd of buffalo so stopped to photograph them.

“I then zoomed in on the numerous oxpeckers. They follow the buffalo and eat the ticks and flys that land on them, so they can make quite good photos when they are pecking at the buffalo’s eyes, ears and nose for a meal.”

More seasonal was Vince Burton’s shot of a kingfisher in the frost which won him a judge’s choice prize.

Vince, 49, from Norfolk said: “The image was taken on a private pond on farm land that I visit regularly. I have been trying to photograph the Kingfishers there throughout the year, and show the different seasons.

“This image was taken during the first cold spell we had in the east of England.

“The combination of frost and mist made everything white, and I enjoyed the simplicity of the image with the blue and white of the image.

“The shot itself took several days to achieve, as despite the pond being the Kingfishers territory, it is still very large and I had to wait for the Kingfisher to land in the right area.”

Also keeping the cold theme going was this funny pic taken by Indian-born Canadian photographer Thomas Vijayan in Antarctica which got him a highly commended.

Thomas, 54, an architect from Ontario managed to get the curious Emperor Penguin looking down the lens of his camera whilst a chick looks on.

Food was a common theme and this swallow feeding its chicks in Australia was captured by Brian Jones who took up photography when he retired.

Speaking of the very highly commended shot, he said: “The photo was from a boardwalk at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Canberra.

“The parents returned every few minutes with an insect or moth for the fledglings, who waited patiently.

“Each seemed to get its share. Some times the parent would land, other times it would pass the food while on the wing.

“We watched for half an hour from a nearby board walk, and they were still going when we left.”

A highly commended shot was this one of a bee-eater about to grab a dragonfly in Botswana.

It was taken by 71 year old Barbara Fleming from Colorado during a holiday.

The retired psychotherapist said: “I traveled by small boat up to the headwaters of the Okavango River.

“The banks were lined with very tall and thick, papyrus grasses several making it impossible to see anything but what was on the water’s edge.

“It took many hours of patient observation over each afternoon and evening over a week for these colorful birds to land on nearby branches to feed on bees and dragonflies with just the right light to make a beautiful image.

“Lots of patience and a very fast shutter speed was needed for this shot, one that tells a story of the type of life this species enjoys.”

Another shot that was very highly commended was this barn owl with a spot of lunch flying home.

Peter Woods, 65, from Norfolk said: “I was at Lady Fen which is part of WWT Welney in Norfolk to photograph owls that day and had already taken a few images when this owl came across the front of me with his lunch.

“I managed to get four images before the owl disappeared from view and into its roost where it stayed.”

One snapper, Christy Grinton from Vancouver Island, even managed to get two of her shots of owls in her native Canada commended in the competition.

Wildlife photographer Christy, 56, said of her picture of a pair of great grey owlets: “I was able to spend quiet moments watching the owls in their nest.

“The face on shot was just days before the larger owl fledged from the nest and walked across the grass to a near by oak tree.

“I loved how the owls looked like two kids in snow suits with just their eyes looking out. I also refer to them as Muppets.

“They are such beautiful Owls I was glad I could capture their wonderment and beauty.”

Her other commended shot was of a great horned owl peeking out from a hole in the tree.

She said: “This photo was taken near the road at the side of the nest. Mum was in the nest with the babies but if you walked to the side of the nest you could catch her looking at you.

“She was very protective of her babies especially since the crows and ravens would consistently go after the owlets.”

And this dramatic picture of a Bonelli’s eagle squaring off with an Iberian fox was also commended in the competition.

Taken by Kath Aggis, 76, from Suffolk whilst on a visit to Spain, she said: ” It was near Toledo and it was from a hide.

“Scraps are put out to encourage the raptors to come down and feed but foxes have caught on to this and challenged the eagle for his food.

“In this particular case the fox won and the eagle flew off hungry.”

SINWP spokesman Ben Jones said: “Now in its sixth year, The Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers are delighted to announce the winners of the SINWP Bird Photographer of the Year 2023 in aid of RSPB.

“Over 1,750 photographs were entered for this competition from around the globe.

“We have seen everything from bald eagles, owls, kingfishers, penguins, and everything in between, and the quality has been stunning.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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