• Double-banded Plover, Sanderling

    Double-banded Plover, Sanderling.   Photographer: David Newell

  • Shining Bronze-Cuckoo

    Shining Bronze-Cuckoo.   Photographer: Chris Dubar

  • Australian Wood Duck

    Australian Wood Duck.   Photographer: Con Boekel

  • Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

    Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.   Photographer: Andrew Browne

  • Eurasian Coot

    Eurasian Coot.   Photographer: Con Boekel

This was a very difficult competition to judge, as there were so many images demonstrating a similar level of technical merit, which then brings it down to my subjective opinion on the individual aesthetic qualities to determine the final selection of 6 images. My sincere congratulations to all who entered, and at the end of the day what really matters is if you are suitably pleased with your own Best of 2016 entry, and look forward to raising the bar even higher in 2017!

Winner: White-tailed Tropicbird – Deanne Gaskill (Image ID 23178)

A stunning, sweeping image of a truly beautiful bird, captured in all its glory. I particularly love the viewpoint of it against the ocean, the deep blues and golden hues complimenting each other perfectly. Typically, Tropicbird images usually feature the bird against a somewhat pale sky, so for me this image is exceptional. I would have done some post-work to remove the three circular highlights, but that is a minor quibble. Compositionally, I like the space given over to it moving through the frame.

White-tailed Tropicbird – Deanne Gaskill

Highly Commended: Rainbow Bee-eater – William Woodhouse (Image ID 23138)

A superb image, very elegant, simple composition, the pin-line rendering of the long, delicate tail is a real eye-catcher. This is a very deserving runner-up to the Tropicbird image. Great eye contact, and the light falling upon the bird is gorgeous. Highlights have possibly blown out more than I would want, but nevertheless this is still a very strong image, reminding me of a Peter Slater or Greg Postle painting of the same species.

Rainbow Bee-eater – William Woodhouse

Commended: Pacific Black Duck – Cassandra White (Image ID 23105)

A strong portrait, the direct, eye-level perspective is very engaging with the viewer. I particularly like the shallow depth of field, and washed-out background. Subjectively, I may have increased the saturation and contrast just a little, to give the bird and water ripples a bit more punch, but as it is, this is a delicate, gentle image.

Pacific Black Duck – Cassandra White

Commended: Western Wattlebird – Jonathan Pridham (Image ID 23170)

I find the colours of this image, in combination with the wattlebird’s alert stance, a potent combination. In particular, I am drawn to the strikingly sharp head and bill juxtaposed against the near-luminous green. Wonderful! The leaves and flower would have benefitted from some additional exposure in post, to create a better balance overall, but this remains a lovely image.

Western Wattlebird – Jonathan Pridham

Splendid Fairy-wren – Gary King (Image ID 22951)

A very striking image, hard to go past really! Colours are simply amazing, the background contains nothing distracting, and every detail of this tiny jewel of a bird is captured sharply, no easy task for wrens that are perpetually on the move. In reviewing this image, I found myself reverting to a smaller display of it on my monitor, bringing it back to near life-size, to fully appreciate just how good this capture really is.

Splendid Fairy-wren – Gary King

Commended: Banded Stilt – Douglas Coughran (Image ID 22957)

My final choice is not so much a bird photograph, as simply a work of art. Great consideration has been given to allowing suitable space around the bird and the trailing ripples across the otherwise featureless, mirror surface. The heraldic pose of the backlit wings, and the delicate bill, are so beautifully reflected, in this evocative, sensitive image. It makes me want to be there!

Banded Stilt – Douglas Coughran

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