Bird Photographer of Year 2019
Congratulations to Caron Steele, Bird Photographer of the Year 2019, for her image Dancing On Ice - Dalmatian Pelican which was taken at Lake Kerkini, in Greece, a favourite haunt for the giant birds.
Caron, of Worcestershire, said: “On arriving in Greece I discovered that Lake Kerkini had frozen for the first time in 16 years. All the pelicans had flown off. Fortunately, a few holes started to thaw in the lake and the birds slowly began to return.
“Unused to the slippery icy surface of the lake they regaled us with hilarious antics as they slid across the lake surface trying to retain control as they took off and landed.
"This magnificent pelican ran towards me across the ice"
“I was lucky enough to capture one such rare moment when this magnificent pelican ran towards me across the ice at dusk before taking off. It was a truly unique experience, both magical and comical at the same time. And the image remains a moment of pure joy captured forever.”
Where is Lake Kerkini?
Lake Kerkini is about a 90-minute drive from Olympic Holidays’ popular holiday spot, Sani Resort, near Thessaloniki. The lake has a new pelican platform which has been built to protect the Dalmatian and white pelicans from predators during the breeding season.
Sani Resort is also a superb site for watching birds, set in a 1,000-acre ecological reserve of forests, wetlands and stunning beaches on the Kassandra peninsula overlooking Mount Olympus.
What equipment do I need to be a birdwatcher?
To be a birdwatcher you need no expertise or equipment – and if your heart flutters at the sight of a soaring eagle or a flash of colour from a diving kingfisher, that’s all you need to get started.
Experience helps train the eye and listening to other birders helps you learn fast about habitat, plumage, feeding and migration.
Birdwatching also makes for an exciting, and educational, family day out – with the chance for children to share the sense of delight when sighting birds with parents and friends.
Take a pair of binoculars and a camera and perhaps you, too, will be entering the next Bird Photographer of the Year with your jaw-dropping images.
Where are the best locations for birdwatching?
Greece, Turkey and Cyprus are all excellent birdwatching sites as migrating birds use habitats such as salty marshes, lagoons and fish pools before spending the winter in Northern Africa and the Western Mediterranean.
There’s variety of birdlife around Corfu’s coast and lakes – such as Halikiopoulos, a seawater lagoon with freshwater streams, near the main airport. Other birdwatching spots are the Ropa Valley with the Lefkimmi salt pans, the reserve at St Spyridon Lake and lakes Korission and Andinoni.
Sightings include spoonbill, heron, warbler, bunting, bee-eaters, Scops owl, short-toed and Bonelli’s eagles. Mount Pantokrator is another excellent area for spotting birds of prey.
In Zante, Eleonora’s falcon and Scopoli’s Shearwater can often be seen in Zakynthos National Marine Park, this includes the Bay of Laganas, where Olympic Holidays’ guests can stay at the five-star Mediterranean Beach Resort and Spa.
At Paradise Hotel or Ilias Studios on Alonissos you’ll be in another marine park, covering the island and more than 20 of its Aegean neighbours. Among the bird visitors is the large Audouin’s gull, with its distinctive red bill.
One of Crete’s most famous natural attractions, Samaria National Park, includes the 16km Samaria Gorge through the White Mountains, it is a World Biosphere Reserve where hoopoes and golden eagles can be seen.
Early spring visitors to Rhodes are rewarded with the chance of seeing up to 80 breeding species including shag, little bittern, long-legged buzzard, Bonelli`s eagle and short-toed eagle. There are also many warblers, shrikes and buntings as well as golden oriole and raven.
Combine days of culture and birdwatching at the Acropolis in Lindos, Kamiros, Filerimos, Kritica Castle, Koskinou-Kalithea and Monolithos.
There are more than 400 bird species in Turkey which thrive in a huge diversity of habitats and the warm climate. In southern Turkey, there are many rare birds such as the brown fish owl, Krüper’s nuthatch and Caspian snowcock, while in the west, there’s a chance to see the Rueppell’s warbler and Cretzschmar’s Bunting.
On one of the major migration routes, Cyprus has an all-year warm climate and is an exciting island to watch for birds. With Africa to the south, Turkey and central Europe to the north and Syria and the Middle East to the east, the island is a major stopover for more than 200 species of birds – there are literally hundreds of thousands of birds to be seen. Cyprus also has two endemic species, the Cyprus Wheatear and the Cyprus Warbler.