A Kitsap County photographer, Bonnie Block, has been named the grand prize winner in the 2016 National Audubon Photography Contest.
The winning photo shows a bald eagle swooping down on a great blue heron at the mouth of Big Beef Creek near Seabeck. Bonnie, a resident of Kingston, learned that her dramatic photo had been chosen from among 7,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous countries.
Big Beef Creek, not far from my home, is a favorite place for nature photographers and bird watchers, who visit in spring and early summer to observe eagles in action. That’s when the birds come to hunt for fish called midshipman before heading out to find migrating salmon. My wife Sue once counted 58 eagles at one time in that location. See Water Ways, June 18, 2010.
Bonnie describes how she prepared to shoot the critical moment in a story by reporter Christian Vosler published in the Kitsap Sun July 30.
Bonnie’s photo was mentioned during a CBS News interview with Melissa Groo, last year’s winner and a judge in this year’s contest. Melissa said a good photograph “freezes that instant that you can’t even see through the naked eye sometimes. Sometimes this behavior happens in a split second, but a photograph captures that unique moment for all of us to see.”
“Which is exactly what this year’s Grand Prize winner is,” commented reporter Brian Mastroianni. “I mean, the shot of the eagle and the heron is pretty incredible.”
“Exactly,” Melissa continued. “It’s that kind of confrontation, that pivotal moment where the eagle is landing and its wings are completely spread out, and you are seeing, obviously, some kind of confrontation. It’s just beautifully captured, technically and artistically speaking.”
Other winners in the Audubon Photography Contest are shown below. Comments from the photographers themselves about their work as well as other photos can be found on Audubon’s webpage.