I haven’t won Wildlife Photographer of the Year but I have won my first photography competition – in fact the first competition I have entered.
For the majority of my foreign wildlife trips I use Naturetrek, probably the best wildlife tour company around. Annually they have a photography competition for either individual photographs or collections taken on their trips, and in 2019 I have won the Image of the Year!
The photograph was taken on the “Poland’s Mammals: In search of the Eurasian Lynx” trip I went on in February last year. In the snowy wintery conditions we spent six days searching for wildlife in the hills of the Bieszczady National Park in the very south-east of the county, close to the Ukranian border. One afternoon we saw the fresh carcass of a wolf-killed red deer as we drove along a road. We moved about 100m away and waited to see if the wolves would return to finish their meal. Unfortunately, they didn’t and as the night began to draw in, we had to return to our accommodation. In the morning, we returned to the spot and within just a short distance we found two more wolf kills. When Jan, the tour leader, offered the chance to get out of the van and walk down the slope to inspect the first kill, I jumped at the opportunity, forgetting my camera, which Jan picked up and brought down to me.
The carcass was out in the open but surrounded on one side by thick undergrowth. As we inspected what was left of the deer, small birds started appearing and hopping around the carcass. Eventually they started feeding from within the ribcage. At first, there were only coal tits but after a while the high-pitched chattering of crested tits could be heard approaching and two or three appeared and also started feeding.
The ribcage and spine formed a perfect but macabre frame around the tits as they fed and I took loads of shots. The winning image isn’t actually my personal favourite of those I took but seems to have been appreciated the most by the judges. This is the winning image.
Other images including my personal favourite…
Details of the trip can be found here.