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Stunning images from international RSPB photography competition

These are the stunning pictures which featured in an international bird photography competition in aid of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Photographer Ravi Parvatharaju beat off entries from all over the globe to land the top prize with his picture of a hassled kingfisher trying to feed his two chicks.   

Other pictures included a lone penguin in the Falklands surrounded by chicks, a huge vulture with wings outstretched being chased away by a jackal and two camouflaged nightjars on the forest floor in Madagascar.

Mr Parvatharaju, 58, a consultant Neonatologist at Homerton Hospital in east London, who lives in Woodford Green, said: 'I took this picture at RSPB Rye Meads nature reserve in Hertfordshire.

'The kingfisher chicks had fledged that morning and were mostly hidden in the bushes and their parents were taking fish to them.

'Suddenly, two came out of the bushes and landed on a perch in front of me. I had started taking pictures when to my surprise and joy, the adult male, their father, landed on the same perch between his babies with a fish.

'Both the chicks started opening their mouths wanting to be fed. I got this picture as he was passing the fish into the mouth of one of the babies and the other chick had its mouth still open.

'It was, and remains to this day, truly a moment of magic for me and an unforgettable wildlife experience which I cherish.'

These are the stunning pictures which featured in an international bird photography competition in aid of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Pictured: A photograph of an aracari - a medium-sized toucan which is native to the Neotropics - taken by Gary Spicer

Photographer Ravi Parvatharaju beat off entries from all over the globe to land the top prize with his picture of a hassled kingfisher trying to feed his two chicks

Pictured: A vulture desperately trying to attack a jackal in the Zimanga Game Reserve. The picture was taken by British photographer Kevin Nash, 55. He said: 'The fearless jackal appeared from nowhere and chased the huge bird off. I just managed to get one shot off - but it worked'

A more far-flung shot that won a Judge's Choice award was by British photographer Kevin Nash, 55 whilst he was in South Africa.

Mr Nash, 55, a company director from Warrington in Cheshire who has only been taking pictures for two years, said: 'This was taken in Zimanga Game Reserve as the vultures were feasting on a decaying carcass.

'The fearless jackal appeared from nowhere and chased the huge bird off. I just managed to get one shot off - but it worked.'

Another shot by Kevin, a sea eagle in Scotland, was runner-up in the competition.

He said: 'The White Tailed Sea Eagle was taken while visiting Isle of Mull, Scotland back in August.

'It was taken from a boat as they fished.' 

And on another British island, the Farne Islands off Northumbria, this puffin with a beak full of fish swoops in to land. IT worker Simon Jenkins, 46, from Ware in Herts, who took the highly commended shot, said: 'This Puffin with sand eels was photographed on The Farne Islands, off of the Northumberland Coast'

Surrounded by chicks, this brave lone adult penguin's feathers don't look too ruffled. The shot was taken by Andy Pollard, a native of the Falkland Islands who runs a nature guiding business.

And on another British island, the Farne Islands off Northumbria, this puffin with a beak full of fish swoops in to land.

IT worker Simon Jenkins, 46, from Ware in Herts, who took the highly commended shot, said: 'This Puffin with sand eels was photographed on The Farne Islands, off of the Northumberland Coast.

'I literally took about 3,000 phots of Puffin's that day but this was one of my favourites.'  

Andy Pollard, a native of the Falkland Islands who runs a nature guiding business, took a shot of a brave lone adult penguin surrounded by chicks.

The 43-year-old sixth-generation islander said: 'The location for the King Penguin shot is Volunteer Point in the Falkland Islands

'This image is the opposite of what most people see as it was taken before the tourism season, in September.

'Normally you would encounter lots of adult birds and a remaining chick. In September lots of adult birds are feeding so the chicks creche together.' 

In more chillier climes, Barbara Fleming got a magnificent shot of a snowy owl in flight in Canada. 

Closer to home, British photographer Andy Howe from Bedford bagged two highly commended shots in the competition, a kestrel on the ground and a little owl nearly going crosseyed trying to look at a ladybird on his feathers.

Mr Howe said of the male kestrel: 'A low angle is a good angle and after months or patience I finally got the shot I was after.' 

In more chillier climes, Barbara Fleming got this magnificent shot of a snowy owl in flight in Canada

Closer to home, British photographer Andy Howe from Bedford bagged two highly commended shots in the competition, a kestrel on the ground and a little owl nearly going crosseyed trying to look at a ladybird on his feathers. Mr Howe said of the male kestrel: 'A low angle is a good angle and after months or patience I finally got the shot I was after'

Mr Howe snapped this hilarious shot of a cross-eyed owl trying to get a closer look at a ladybird that had hopped on to its feathers

A dramatic shot of a white-tailed eagle swooping in off the ice pack off Japan was highly commended. French photographer Alexandre Bès, 28, said: 'Early in the morning, we set off on icebreaker boats to observe and photograph white tailed eagles and Steller's sea eagles. 'This bird was in attack position to catch its target. Thanks to our telephoto lens and its proximity, we were able to achieve a very tight shot in order to capture this posture so interesting' 

A dramatic shot of a white-tailed eagle swooping in off the ice pack off Japan was highly commended.

French photographer Alexandre Bès, 28, said: 'Early in the morning, we set off on icebreaker boats to observe and photograph white tailed eagles and Steller's sea eagles.

'This bird was in attack position to catch its target. Thanks to our telephoto lens and its proximity, we were able to achieve a very tight shot in order to capture this posture so interesting.

'The white behind the bird is due to the colour of the pack ice, it is also widely used by birds as they can rest on the blocks of ice.' 

Another shot by Mr Nash, of a sea eagle in Scotland, was runner-up in the competition.

He said: 'The White Tailed Sea Eagle was taken while visiting Isle of Mull, Scotland back in August.

'It was taken from a boat as they fished.'  

In third place was a graceful shot of a heron by Robin Claydon, 60, from Cheshunt, Hertfordshire.

Retired Mr Claydon said: 'The heron picture was taken near Bourne in Lincolnshire. I had sat in a hide for 24 hours, when this heron came and landed in the pool.

'It sat there for about an hour from 3am whilst I took photos of it. I had to use a flash which did not bother it at all.

'I think it must be used to all the flashes coming off the power lines of the adjacent electrified train track.

'It had just preened itself and had this one feather on the end of its bill..' 

Another shot by Mr Nash, of a sea eagle in Scotland, was runner-up in the competition. He said: 'The White Tailed Sea Eagle was taken while visiting Isle of Mull, Scotland back in August. 'It was taken from a boat as they fished'

In third place was a graceful shot of a heron by Robin Claydon, 60, from Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. Retired Mr Claydon said: 'The heron picture was taken near Bourne in Lincolnshire. I had sat in a hide for 24 hours, when this heron came and landed in the pool'

Retired NHS consultant Phil Bennett was highly praised for his amazing shot of a peregrine falcon chick taking a bird whilst its parent looked on.

He said: 'The peregrines nested just a mile or so from where I live in Scarborough and after the relaxing of the lockdown restrictions I'd be up with the sun and out to watch the peregrines hunting for breakfast, to watch the young grow and fledge, and learn to hunt.

'All this could be seen from the public highway without causing any disturbance to the birds, which are a protected species.

'This picture is taken at the early stage of training. The juvenile is flying up to meet the adult and to take the prey dropped over a very short distance.

'The adult moves slowly further away, watching intently all the time.

'If junior drops the catch the adult bird will rapidly turn, dive and recover it. After all, they don't want to waste a good breakfast.' 

Not all the photos showed birds above ground as a shot of gannets underwater in the Shetland Islands shows.

The photo was taken by Philip Hayman from Powys Wales.

He said: 'On my first visit to Shetland I took the usual Gannet images of them entering the water and leaving the sea with fish and also images of them fighting among themselves for fish on the surface.

'During my next visit I wanted do something different and used my underwater camera to get this shot.' 

Retired NHS consultant Phil Bennett was highly praised for his amazing shot of a peregrine falcon chick taking a bird whilst its parent looked on. He said: 'The peregrines nested just a mile or so from where I live in Scarborough and after the relaxing of the lockdown restrictions I'd be up with the sun and out to watch the peregrines hunting for breakfast, to watch the young grow and fledge, and learn to hunt'

Not all the photos showed birds above ground as a shot of gannets underwater in the Shetland Islands shows. The photo was taken by Philip Hayman from Powys Wales. He said: 'On my first visit to Shetland I took the usual Gannet images of them entering the water and leaving the sea with fish and also images of them fighting among themselves for fish on the surface. 'During my next visit I wanted do something different and used my underwater camera to get this shot'

A retired teacher, Ian Stone, 69, from Folkestone managed to get this shot of a heron flipping and eating a fish in the dead of night.

He said: 'The image was taken in Central Hungary.

'The Night Heron is a nocturnal feeding bird. Once the fish has been taken from the water, the heron flips the fish to swallow it whole.

'For me, it is about capturing that moment - showing the full beauty of this bird in the rising light at dawn.' 

In Costa Rica, Canadian Jake Levin got this shot of a brown-headed parrot hanging upside down.

The 33-year-old Spanish lecturer from Montreal said: 'It was pure luck that I got the shot; I was talking with another photographer, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed this guy having a bit of fun and hanging upside down from the branch.

'I had enough time to duck behind the camera, fire off two or three shots, and hope one of them was in focus and correctly exposed before he flipped right side up again.' 

A retired teacher, Ian Stone, 69, from Folkestone managed to get this shot of a heron flipping and eating a fish in the dead of night. He said: 'The image was taken in Central Hungary. 'The Night Heron is a nocturnal feeding bird. Once the fish has been taken from the water, the heron flips the fish to swallow it whole'

In Costa Rica, Canadian Jake Levin got this shot of a brown-headed parrot hanging upside down. The 33-year-old Spanish lecturer from Montreal said: 'It was pure luck that I got the shot; I was talking with another photographer, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed this guy having a bit of fun and hanging upside down from the branch'

Eric Browett, a 63-year-old retired teacher from Welwyn, Hertfordshire, got this lovely shot of a swallow emerging through a broken pane of glass at a farm in Lincolnshire.

Speaking about the image, he said: 'The camera was set up outside pointing at the window and I sat quietly in the doorway with a remote release waiting for the swallows to fly in and out.

'They were quite unconcerned by my presence.' 

A picture of two Collared Nightjars shows they are barely visible camouflaged against the forest floor in Madagascar.

Photographer Swayamsiddha Mohapatra, a doctor from Mumbai took the shot in the Andasibe Mantadia National Park.

The 28-year-old said: 'Collared Nightjars are endemic to Madagascar, however, spotting them can be extremely tricky.

'They camouflage so well into the surrounding that one may pass them and not notice.

'Spending close to a week in the central mountains, I was lucky to spot a pair.

'However, when I decided to crawl close to them to get a wide-angle environment-inclusive portrait, I was faced with the challenge of keeping them in sight.

'After crawling several times in the wrong direction, I was finally successful in spotting them and getting the picture.

'The particular stripes and patterns make them invisible only in particular surroundings and somehow the birds seem to have self-realisation of these surroundings.'  

The judges were presented with more than 1,500 anonymised images from around the globe and it took them a couple of weeks to whittle the entrants down.

The minimum entry fee was £1 with all proceeds going to the RSPB. 

Eric Browett, a 63-year-old retired teacher from Welwyn, Hertfordshire, got this lovely shot of a swallow emerging through a broken pane of glass at a farm in Lincolnshire. Speaking about the image, he said: 'The camera was set up outside pointing at the window and I sat quietly in the doorway with a remote release waiting for the swallows to fly in and out'

A picture of two Collared Nightjars shows they are barely visible camouflaged against the forest floor in Madagascar. Photographer Swayamsiddha Mohapatra, a doctor from Mumbai took the shot in the Andasibe Mantadia National Park. The 28-year-old said: 'Collared Nightjars are endemic to Madagascar, however, spotting them can be extremely tricky'

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