Wild Planet’s Melissa Groo Wins Audubon Grand Prize

Image: Great egret © Melissa Groo/Audubon Photography Awards

April 27. Wildlife photographer and educator Melissa Groo’s exquisite image of a displaying great egret is the Grand Prize Winner of this year’s Audubon photography contest. Melissa, who joined Wild Planet as a columnist in January, commented: “I am honoured and thrilled. To be recognized by an organization that works so hard on behalf of the winged creatures I care about so deeply, is more gratifying than I can express.”

Her image appears on the cover on the May/June issue of Audubon magazine and will hang in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC for a year. She added: “The judges were people I respect very much: Kenn Kaufman, Joel Sartore, Kevin Fisher, Sabine Meyer and Steve Freligh. They chose my image out of many thousands of others.”

Soft dim light
Melissa gave special thanks to fellow photographer Cheryl E Arena, who introduced her to the little known rookery in west central Florida where the award-winning photograph was made. “I remember how dark and grim it was that evening, as the egrets and herons were flying in to roost,” recalls Melissa. “We despaired of getting any good shots, but the soft, dim light really made this egret pop against the distant dark mangroves, and when he began to arch his neck and fan out his aigrettes, he took my breath away! Poor weather can sometimes really result in special images.”

Worth protecting
Part of her grand prize is an all expenses paid trip to the Caribbean island of St Lucia, including excursions once there to photograph birds and whales. Melissa says she is looking forward to making the trip later this year with her family. “I'm looking forward to how this award might help give me more of a platform from which to continue to spread my personal gospel – that birds and other wild creatures are marvellous and have an intrinsic value as well as an importance to the health of our planet,” she says, “that they are worth caring about and protecting.”

• To see the other winners from this year’s competition, visit the National Audubon Society website at: www.audubon.org

• To order a print of this image, please visit Melissa’s website at melissagroo.com/contact
“In a week or so, I'll be making an announcement of a special limited edition of this print, so if you're interested, you may want to wait for that!”

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