Art of Birding Challenges: April's Best

We’re not quite sure where April went – it was a mix of never-ending dragging Groundhog Days but, somehow, the weeks flew by. March seems like a lifetime ago. Many participants in the 2020 Art of Birding Wildlife & Nature Photography Challenges found solace through these strange times in photography which gave some structure and purpose to their days.


By Gayle Freeman


April’s challenges began on a bright and happy note with the colour “Yellow” being used for a creative spark. The butter deliciousness of Gayle Freeman’s (Auckland New Zealand) dahlia had us hankering for toast, and the fresh spring forsythia from Lori Palmer (Ohio, USA) brightened our monitors.


By Lori Palmer


Judi had no idea when she designed the challenges late last year just how appropriate the “Close to home” challenge would be – who would have thought so many people in the world would be in lock-down, not able to leave their homes except for essential purposes (wildlife photography not being on the list!). Lee Waddell (Auckland, New Zealand) found beauty in the texture of a leaf, calling the result “Nature’s Rumble Strip”.


By Lee Waddell


And Gareth McKnight (Lower Hutt, New Zealand) found the benefits of living in a biophilic region when he came across this female kārearea (NZ falcon) on a (sanctioned) walk through his neighbourhood.


By Gareth McKnight


“Urban wildlife” was also another chance to explore our local neighbourhoods to see who was living there. We couldn’t help but anthropomorphise and imagine guilty looks on these two flies, caught inflagrante by Phil Michael (Queensland, Australia).

By Phil Michael


Sally Boussoualim was visited by a group of Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos, including this beautiful female, which came down to feast in her banksia. Part of this challenge was to write a story and Sally wrote “These beautiful birds are on the endangered species list due to habitat loss. They are endemic to south-west Australia where much of their native habitat has been cleared for farming causing considerable loss of breeding sites and food sources leading to reduced reproduction. It is known that their numbers have declined by 50% in the past 45 years. Carnaby’s live for 40-50 years and a large portion of the population is now beyond breeding age meaning there are not a lot of breeding age birds to replace them. They are also known to form strong mating bonds throughout their lives. This little flock was eating on plantings of Banksia, one of their natural foods, in an urban area. They have also adapted to eating seeds and berries of exotic species such as pines and cape lilacs. You definitely know when a flock has flown in to your neighbourhood as they are quite vociferous and there is a lot of jostling for position and moving around. The noise from them cracking the seeds or berries is also amazing. We can help in the recovery of the species by protecting existing breeding hollows and remnants vegetation including banksia heathlands and revegetating habitats.”


By Sally Boussoualim



We rounded out this challenging month with a “Dark and Moody” theme, which seemed to sit well with how many of us were feeling. Sometimes getting through a difficult time involves running with those feelings and channeling them into something creative. Karen Miller (Wairarapa, New Zealand) created a haunted house with a rising full moon, sending goosebumps down our spine.


By Karen Miller



And Carol Jardine (Auckland, New Zealand) braved learning about her histogram and spent time seeing how it affected her exposure of these Autumnal fungi. You can see more of her dark and moody experiments on her blog.


By Carol Jardine



Thanks to everyone who participated and posted their photos online to share some joy.

It's not too late to join the challenge - sign up at https://www.artbyjlm.com/aob2020.html and just jump on in with the current week. Most of the upcoming challenges can be done around your home or local neighbourhood, and challenge creator Judi will modify those that can't. It's also totally fine to use photos from your archives if you can’t get out and about. If you have a household that you're trying to keep on an even keel, perhaps consider doing some of the previous week's challenges together. And if it's all too much at the moment, that's OK - we'll be here when you're ready to join us again. Kia kaha - stay safe.

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