#7. »Snow Landing » By Jérémie Villet, France, Rising Star Portfolio Award, Winner 2019
With outstretched wings and intense eyes fixed on its prey, a bald eagle lands in fresh snow on a riverbank. Jérémie spent a week observing the behaviour of these birds from his hide. Spotting this one swooping down to catch salmon from the icy water below, he was well-positioned to capture this portrait.
To complete their life cycle, salmon return to their river of origin to spawn, dying shortly afterwards. An overabundance of dying salmon makes for easy meals for opportunistic eagles. Every year around 3,000 bald eagles gather at the Chilkat River in Alaska to feast on salmon.
#8. »Snow Exposure » By Max Waugh, USA, Black And White, Winner 2019
In a winter whiteout a lone American bison briefly lifts its head from its endless foraging. Max purposefully slowed his shutter speed to blur the snow and ‘paint lines across the silhouette of the bison’. Slightly overexposing the shot and converting it to black and white accentuated the simplicity of the wintry scene.
Swinging their huge heads from side to side, American bison sweep away snow with their muzzles to eat the grasses and sedges buried beneath. Originally a common sight, their largescale slaughter for meat and hides brought them close to extinction in the nineteenth century. But populations are recovering and wild American bison now thrive in national parks.
#9. »Cradle Of Life » By Stefan Christmann, Germany, Wildlife Photographer Portfolio Award, Winner 2019
It was easy to spot an emperor penguin with a hatching egg, says Stefan, because the father would frequently lift up his brood pouch to check on the chick’s progress. The problem was finding a bird facing the right direction at the crucial moment in the few minutes of good light available each day.
While his partner is away hunting at sea, the male endures the bitter Antarctic winter, without feeding, as he incubates their single egg. After a gruelling 65 to 75 days, the egg begins to hatch. Stefan watched the tiny chick struggle to crack the shell. ‘It kept closing its eyes and looked exhausted,’ he says.
The chair of the judging panel, Roz Kidman Cox, stated in a press release that photos from the Tibetan Plateau “are rare enough.” She added: “But to have captured such a powerful interaction between a Tibetan fox and a marmot—two species key to the ecology of this high-grassland region—is extraordinary.”
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