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Friday, June 15, 2012

Feathered friends at their finest: Spectacular results of world photographic competition

By Shari Miller

The overall winner shows a cormorant in a frenetic pursuit to catch one of a thousand grunt fishes in Mexico

It was more than just a simple case of "watch the birdie" for a group of talented photographers dedicated to capturing their feathered friends on camera.

For some, it meant camping out for untold amounts of time to capture that perfect moment.

But the stunning results, all winners in the first Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) photo competition, detail a vast array of birds of all shapes and sizes flying, feeding, fighting and foraging within their natural habitat.

Second prize went to American Mike Murray's shot of a common loon surfacing from the water

A colourful mating display by two calliope hummingbirds scooped the third prize for Canadian Walter Nussbaumer

This stunning picture of a marvellous spatuletail was captured mid-air

The overall winner, shot by Spanish photographer Cristobal Serrano, shows a cormorant in a frenetic pursuit to catch one of a thousand grunt fishes in Mexico.

The remarkable collection also includes a crested honey buzzard surrounded by bees and a vulture attacking a wolf.

The winning shots also feature a flock of red billed quelea swarming around an elephant and a fluffy family of tree swallows sitting on a branch during a snow storm.

Eurasian dotterel, as captured by Jakob Hochuli of Switzerland

British photographer Pete Morris found the perfect moment to capture this blue-billed helmet vanga peeking out his nest

Lining up: seven little bee-eaters posed for this photograph by British snapper Kit Day

Another picture shows a red-bearded bee-eater flying home with food for her chicks, while another features a corncrake preparing for lift-off.

Meanwhile British photographer Ron McCombe has cleverly captured a red grouse, while another picture shows Cape gannet diving underwater for their dinner.

Mexican Jaime Rojo discovered these gentoo penguins in Antarctica

Cape gannet dive underwater for their dinner in South Georgia

Riding the waves: Harri Taavetti's wintering flock of Steller's Eiders

Sweet shot: A crested honey buzzard surrounded by bees

A colourful mating display by two calliope hummingbirds is revealed in all its glory, while British photographer Pete Morris has captured the bright blue bill of a helmet vanga, found in the rainforests of Madagascar, peeking out of its nest.

Photographers across the globe submitted pictures of 3,000 different species from 128 countries.

Josep del Hoyo, senior editor of the HBW series, said: "The members of the jury enjoyed their task very much, although it was quite difficult as I think several hundred of the photos received could have justifiably been awarded these prizes".

The HBW is a 16-volume encyclopedia which describes and illustrates for the first time every species of bird in the world.

A lappet-faced vulture attacks a golden jackal in this action shot

British photographer Ron McCombe found this red grouse foraging for food in the snow

Clear the runway: a corncrake prepares for lift-off

A red-bearded bee-eater takes food home to its chicks

Canadian Keith Williams captures these tree Swallows cuddling together in a spring snowstorm

A flock of red-billed quelea engulf an elephant



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