The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in partnership with Nature Photographers Ltd has announced the winners of its inaugural Bird Photographer of the Year (BPOTY) competition for 2015.
The announcements were made at BirdFair 2016 during a packed awards ceremony held in the main events marquee at 5 pm and hosted by BTO President and competition head judge, Chris Packham.
Congratulations go to Andy Parkinson from Matlock in Derbyshire for his unusual and imaginative image of a Mute Swan, which united the judges in their admiration. Andy takes the winning prize of £5,000 and the title of Bird Photographer of the Year.
The winning portrait of a Mute Swan by Andy Parkinson.
A jubilant Andy commented: "Winning the overall title of Bird Photographer of the Year is a massive honour for me and is undoubtedly one of the highlights of my career. The standard of entries was exceptionally high and I count myself extremely lucky that the judges chose my image as the overall winner.
"I always strive in my photography to try and produce genuinely unique images, revealing familiar subjects in different ways and to show that there is always a new image and unique angle. This is achieved by spending months or years working with local subjects, building an encyclopaedic knowledge of behaviour, light and perspective. I'm delighted that my endeavours have been so generously rewarded."
Over 6,500 entries were received from 40 countries around the globe, the standard of which was simply stunning. Chris Packham commented: "What we are looking for are those images which have an instant and enduring 'wow' factor, and when they do pop up the response is exhilarating, so exciting, so rewarding.
"To have been gifted with so many of these 'wow' photos in year one of this new competition is extraordinary, because photographing birds is enormously challenging. They fly off, don't listen to a word you say and are a much favoured subject in the wildlife photography genre — hence there is massive competition, making it hard to 'say something new' with an image. But the winning image exemplifies this art perfectly — a much photographed, familiar and accessible subject is represented in an entirely new and fabulously imaginative way. Roll on next year!"
Although BPOTY sets out to showcase the stunning photographic capture of birds, its aims are far wider. The competition will directly benefit many of the subjects of the images by generating income for the BTO's conservation research, and it further helps to promote the organisation by extending its profile beyond its current reach.
But it works the other way, too: BPOTY aims to promote the artistry of bird photography and the photographers themselves to the wider ornithological community, giving them the opportunity to have their work published and recognised through the competition book, associated merchandise and exhibition.
The Birds in Flight category winner of Common Eider taking off from the sea, taken by Pål Hermansen.
Paul Souders' shot of a leaping Gentoo Penguin was Highly Commended.
A lavish 256-page, coffee-table book featuring over 230 of the best images from the competition, including the winners, runners-up and commended images, has been published by William Collins. The book is now available to purchase through all major retailers and directly from the BTO website (www.bto.org), where a percentage of the proceeds will go directly towards supporting the valuable work of this organisation.
The excellence of the images is also being showcased in an exhibition being held at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Middlesex/Greater London, from 10 September 2016 to 29 January 2017.
The 2017 competition is now open for entries. Visit www.birdpoty.co.uk for more information on how to enter.