Art of Birding Challenges: Best of January

It has been a stunning start to the 2020 Art of Birding Wildlife & Nature Photography Challenges with hundreds of people from all around the world joining the weekly challenges to showcase and advocate for the wildlife and the wild spaces they love. Here are our favourites from the January challenges, chosen for their interpretation, creativity, and the way they made our hearts sing. If you're interested in joining us, just jump on in - these challenges are a journey, not a destination so there is no requirement to complete them all.

Week 1: Where I Stand

To start things off, everyone posted about where they felt most connected to the Earth. From parched Australian farms, to snowbound Canadian forests, to lush New Zealand bush, there was a wonderful showcase of special spaces.

The image that stood out to us was by Helen Carpenter (New South Wales, Australia). Helen is a farmer in a drought-stricken rural area constantly besieged by dust storms. She has been working hard on a conceptual photography project about the drought, diversity, resilience, and beauty of life on her farm. This colour photo takes on an old-world sepia-toned feel due to the dust storm.

By Helen Carpenter

A number of people also did the extra credit challenge and started a blog - do take a look:

Carol Jardine: Wet Shoes Wet Feet

Loralee Hyde: Our Glorious Wildlife

Gordon & Judith: blogging from scenic Dunedin

Week 2: Leafy Greens

So many sumptuous leaves appeared in week 2 of our challenge, even from snowbound Canadians who were forced to be intrepid and/or creative. Our top pic was from artist Tessa Barringer (Dunedin, New Zealand) who was inspired to rediscover her macro lens. We love the colours and form in this abstract rendering of flax leaves.

By Tessa Barringer

This beautiful arrangement by Nadine Campbell (Christchurch, New Zealand), also deserves a mention with Nadine taking on the extra credit challenge to make a still life composition.

By Nadine Campbell

Week 3: Off The Beaten Path

In Week 3 we all set off to places previously unexplored. Many of us now have a much longer photography bucket list! Carmen Therriault's (Alberta, Canada) owl photos stole our hearts in this challenge. Carmen says "It is easy to get off the beaten path in rural Alberta, Canada! I love heading out to look for snowy owls this time of year, they are plentiful about 1.5 hours from where I live. They usually arrive here in Nov/Dec and stay until Mar/Apr. The first photo is a male snowy owl, the second is a great horned owl in an old abandoned barn."

By Carmen Therriault

By Carmen Therriault

Week 4: Fill The Frame

So many flowery, feathery, and other fascinating close-ups filled the frame in our week 4 challenge, the top pic from wildlife veterinarian Lisa Argilla (Dunedin, New Zealand) with her close-up of kākāpō feathers. Lisa not only does an amazing job of caring for our incredibly rare and endangered wildlife but also advocates for them through her photography. You can see why kākāpō are nick-named "moss chickens" - such perfect camoflague for this nocturnal, flightless, incredibly rare, incredibly wonderful parrot. Would you believe there are only 211 of these birds in existence? Their numbers were bolstered last season with a record breaking 71 chicks surviving to juvenile age, in part due to the incredible efforts by avian vets like Lisa. If you'd like to know more about kākāpō, head to the Kākāpō Recovery Trust website.

By Lisa Argilla

An honourable mention also goes to Cath Jamieson (Christchurch, New Zealand) for her stunning dahlia photograph. It looks like it's on fire!

By Cath Jamieson

Photos from challenges can be seen on Excio Photo Community app (Download the app on your phone -> go to the Members tab - 'Nature' -> 'AoB Challenges').

In February we’re playing with raindrops, finding nature’s candy, getting on-level with our favourite critters and seeing what magic we can make with our mobile phones. Find out more and sign up at

© Excio