The 2022 competition generated 126 entries: 75 in the main section, 28 in the new Flocks category and 23 in the Young Photographers category. Although there weren’t quite as many main section entries as in the previous two years, the quality was excellent, making life enjoyably challenging for the four shortlisting judges, who listed no fewer than 43 of the entries. These were whittled down to a final shortlist of 17, from which Iolo Williams selected the prize winners.
The winners were as follows:
Winner: Linda Yeardley-Williams, for ‘Face Off’, an action shot of a Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker sparring over food at a feeder. The judges commented: ‘A beautifully lit action shot’ ….. ‘It’s not often you get a chance to see, let alone photograph such an episode like this, so well done, Linda. I love the black background and the birds being so well lit.’
Runner-up: Jeffrey Slocombe, for ‘Little Owl’.The judges commented: ‘A stunning peek-a-boo portrait of a bird that is now difficult to find in Wales’ …. ‘I like the colours, the subject, the pose of the owl and how sharp and clear the photo is’ …. ‘I love Little Owls – yes, they are non-native, but they are cute and curious creatures. The image shows one typically peeking from a daytime roost hole in a building. It is good and sharp, nicely cropped and well lit …. and those eyes!’ As well as the gallery below, we’ve promoted the picture to feature in our home page banner slider.
Third place: Robin Sandham, for ‘Flag Reading, the noisy way’, where the photographer was peering upwards (no doubt at considerable personal risk!) to read the code on the leg flag. The judges commented: ‘It’s difficult to get a good photo of a tern, let alone one that’s attacking you at the time!’ …. ‘I love everything about the photo – this really captures the birds well. It’s a fish-eye view, I feel like I’m about to get eaten!’
Highly Commended: Sid Simmons for ‘Buzzard landing to drink’, Sophie Dorman for ‘Snow Bunting’ and Dave Astins for ‘Wilson’s Petrel’, taken on a pelagic trip which featured in several photos.
Winner: Paul Williams, for ‘Murmuration 1’. This was one of three shots that Paul took of Starling murmurations, which unsurprisingly featured strongly in this category. The judges commented: ‘A stunning, beautifully composed photo. This one really stood out’ …. ‘I like how this photo gives a good 3D impression of the murmuration, with some birds closer in the frame whilst others are smaller and further away. The colours of the sky are lovely and I like the juxtaposition of the wind turbine’ …. ‘Great photo – really shows off the sheer number of Starlings in the sky, it almost feels like they are flying in a circle above you.’
Runner-up: Jeffrey Slocombe, for ‘Storm Petrels and Wilson’s Petrel’. One of several photos from (presumably) the same pelagic trip: the judges commented: ‘A very difficult photo, which gives a great comparison of two similar species’ …. ‘Even without the Wilson’s Petrel this is good, but to have such a rare bird in the northern hemisphere tagged on is better! There is so much action, nice elongated crop and well lit. The only letdown for me is that the horizon could have been straightened or the bit of blue sky cropped out’. Like the Little Owl, this now features in our home page banner/slider.
Third place: Jeffrey Slocombe, for ‘Ring-necked Ducks’. The judges commented: ‘A once-in-a-lifetime photo of pretty scarce visitors to Wales’ …. ‘There’s something very sweet and simple about this photo that I really enjoyed – very nice’ …. ‘Such an unusual sight in the UK, let alone Wales. A flock of Ring-necked Ducks this size is amazing and to get a great image that is sharp and shows all the ID features is notewworthy.’
Highly commended: Michael Thackeray, for ‘Black-tailed Godwits’, Karen Burns for ‘Auks at the rock’ and Dave Astins for ‘Storm Petrels and Wilson’s Petrel’.
YOUNG PHOTOGRAPHERS CATEGORY
Winner: George Rossini, for ‘Preening egret’. The judges commented: ‘A beautifully composed, crystal clear photo of a stunning bird’ …. ‘I really enjoyed this photo, the way you’ve framed and edited it really makes it stand out’ …. ‘Like the crop on this image, the fact it’s virtually in mono makes the image work. A little bit of blow-out on the neck of the bird, but very pleasing in general. Nice and crisp and a good stand-out image’.
Runner-up: Sophie Dorman, for ‘Osprey’. The judges commented: ‘The photographer has done so well to get this head-on shot of one of Wales’ rarest breeding birds with its catch’ …. ‘Nice, crisp and well cropped. Love the fact it looks like the bird is looking at you’.
Third place: Jamie Smart, for ‘Goldfinch fight’. The judges commented: ‘She’s managed a great action shot of one of our most beautiful birds’ …. ‘ the photo is so sharp and a really nice behavioural insight’ …. ‘not an easy image to manage, getting both birds crisp and well lit, with very little motion blur – well done.’
Highly commended: Dan Gorton, for ‘Flying into autumn’ (now featured on the home page banner/slider, together with the Little Owl and petrels) and Danny Walmsley, for ‘Cormorant and its catch’.
With a total of 70 different species featured (including both very common and very rare), the competition was a delight for collecting entries and judging. The tally of 43 on the original shortlists indicated the difficulty in decision-making and there were very many excellent pictures that didn’t quite make it to the short-listing stage. As always, there were some fascinating back stories to some of the photographs, from the Wheatears on South Stack in early April that delighted the photographer so much that he submitted the very first entry almost the day the competition was launched, to the husband and wife who won first prizes in the Flocks and Main sections respectively – we didn’t realise they were married until we’d sent out emails to the winners and started receiving replies back – their story will feature in the Spring 2023 e-Newsletter.
The gallery below presents all the prize winners and Highly Commended photographs – hover over the centre of each picture to identify it.
Now on to the 2023 competition – news about this during the spring.