Art of Birding Challenges: Best of June

The June 2020 Art of Birding Wildlife & Nature Photography Challenges encouraged people to look at the natural world in new ways. As many of our participants are still in some form of lockdown or restricted travel, it was also a chance to hit the archives and reminisce of past adventures.

By Alison Zinsli

We started with the theme of scales. Alison Zinsli (New Zealand) posted this photo of a red and blue lizard from Masai Mara, Kenya. Alison says “The beautiful, vivid colours of this lizard made him stand out while he was sunning himself.”

By Sally Boussoualim

We then explored microcosms - those small worlds of mosses and fungi that can reveal exquisite beauty when viewed up close and sensitively photographed. We loved the receeding line of tiny orange fungi in this shot by Sally Boussoualim (Australia). Even though she didn't have a macro lens or tripod, she used the ground to rest her camera so she could get some stability.

By Chris Ellery

Chris Ellery (New Zealand) found a surreal microcosm in the form of an algal forest in a geothermal hot pool in Kuirau Park, Rotorua. The fallen leaf helps give some size context. Chris says that the weekly challenges “makes me think, not just look”.

By Robert James

Considering multiple views keeps your creative eye flexible and may lead you to take a new view on a familiar subject. Robert James spends a lot of time with Zealandia's takahē. Here he shows Orbell takahē on the lawn to provide a setting for his story, then he zooms in for a portrait. His last view is of the takahē's huge red feet. Robert tells us a bit more about this incredibly rare bird:

"Although recently he has tended to avoid the crowds, today Takahē Orbell was happy to stay close for a photo session at ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary. It is believed that takahē have an ancestor who arrived in New Zealand between 2 and 8 million years ago and have a common ancestor with pūkeko and the Australian purple swamphen. Their flightlessness developed as an evolutionary response to the absence of mammalian ground predators and the energy saving benefits of avoiding flight and enabled them to survive on a diet based on nutritionally poor grasses and tussocks. Instead takahē would have relied heavily on camouflage from New Zealand's aerial (avian) predators. Despite being so large (around 3kg), takahē blend into their grassland habitat very quickly and easily just by sitting down and tucking their beaks under their wings as this covers up their bright red beaks and legs."

By Lisa Argilla

Sometimes multiple views on a subject can tell a story, as wildlife vet Lisa Argilla found. It can be nigh-on impossible to take a photo of a parrot without them wanting to be involved with what you're doing, especially if it’s one of New Zealand’s highly-intelligent native parrot species. Lisa took these three photos of an overly curious kea: "The nerve! This cheeky dude flew in, landed on my car, proceeded to have a go at my telephoto lens and then looked offended after I told him to get off and stop chewing things."

By Judy Jackson

In the last week of June we looked for the effects of natural forces. Judy Jackson (Canada) captured this incredible storm front during a photography workshop in rural Alberta, just before the cloud passed overhead forcing her to run for cover as the wind picked up and a heavy rain began.

By Jean Fleming

Science communicator Jean Fleming (New Zealand) is fascinated with the power of water to change the landscape and she posted a series of photos showing its effects on various landscapes. Pictured here is blown ice on the top of Mt Victoria in Hobart; a phenomenon also seen in The Antarctic. Jean writes, "when water freezes in cracks it expands, sometimes fracturing the rock, causing erosion, but also allowing access of the roots of plants to new nutrients."

This month our focus is on advocacy and on increasing some technical skills. Feel free to jump right on in - it's never too late to join our weekly challenges. Find out more at and jump on in.

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