By Judi Lapsley Miller
March in the 2020 Art of Birding Wildlife & Nature Photography Challenges saw the world turn on its head, with most participants suddenly finding themselves under some form of lockdown or shelter-in-place order. For many, our weekly challenge became a welcome distraction and a way to stay connected to the world, even if from their garden or deck.
Our first photo challenge in March had a "Prickly" theme. Melanie Day (Auckland, New Zealand) captured this beautiful photo of an aloe with its repeating patterns of prickles. She says "I love the way the prickles look like sets of stylised waves travelling across the sea. If you look closely the imprints of the prickles of one leaf can be seen pressed into its neighbour like an echo.
Our next challenge entitled "Analogous Colours" had many people looking at nature in a different way. Colour-queen Erica Siegel (Queensland, Australia) delighted us again with her stunning macro insect photography, this photo showing a Blue Triangle butterfly.
The autumnal Equinox arrived for the Southern Hemisphere and the vernal Equinox arrived for those in the North. It was lovely to share seasons around the world.
Each week as well as posting to Instagram, Carol Jardine (Auckland, New Zealand) blogs about the challenge and posts additional photos. Her Equinox blog post included the apposite Albert Camus quote "Autumn is a second Spring where every leaf is a flower" - do take a look.
And do check out the rest of Carol's blog posts covering the challenges this month:
Another favourite Equinox photo was by Carolyn Stewart (Queensland, Australia) who captured this interesting mix of shorebirds who are preparing for their migrations. In the middle is a bar-tailed godwit, with whimbrels in the front and great knots at the back.
Out of them all, "Golden Hour" was probably our favourite challenge so far; and marked one-quarter of the way through the 2020 challenge. Golden light really does make for the most spectacular photos and we found ourselves compelled to select more than one to share with you.
Judy Jackson's (Alberta, Canada) photo of Golden Hour over a snow-covered field captured quite a different mood to a typical Golden Hour photo. Judy took the photo in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. She says "This area in central Alberta is predominantly agriculture based along with oil and gas. It was a grey day and not much light, but the little bit of pink glow caught me and the group of trees I thought were perfect against such a peaceful sky. I find the image rather calming."
In contrast, Carol Garside's (Waikato, New Zealand) view from her deck with a blazing rising sun shows where the sun was hiding!
Angie Ormsby (Taupo, New Zealand) captured this sweetest little warou/welcome swallow stretching its wings to capture the golden light.
And Jan Robinson (Perth, Australia) captured this incredible abstract photo. Jan says her photo was "taken at Barn Hill Station, which is Perth side of Broome, Western Australia. The tide is going out over the sand and the red is reflection from red sandstone rocks on the beach. An amazing place at sunset."
We rounded out March with the challenge theme "Habitat" and couldn't take our eyes off Deborah Atkinson's stunning photographic composite of Southern Carmine Bee-eaters. Deborah says "On the sandy banks of the Chobe river, which marks the boundary between Namibia and Botswana, is a nesting site where hundreds of Southern Carmine Bee-eaters arrive in September every year to mate and rear their chicks, before returning to their European homes thousands of miles to the North. This is a composite image to include some of the dynamic aerobatics and varying colouring of the birds."
If you'd like to join in, it's not too late to sign up to the weekly challenges at https://www.artbyjlm.com/aob2020.html where you can jump on in with the current week.
Most of the upcoming challenges can be done around your home or local neighbourhood with other challenges modified to make them suitable for lockdown. It's also totally fine to use photos from your archives if you can’t get out and about to capture what you would like. You can also do some (or all!) of the previous week's challenges if you wish.
Saying that, if you've already signed up and it's all too much at the moment and you find yourself having fallen behind, that's totally OK - we'll be here when you're ready to join us again. Kia kaha - stay safe.