Female Kestrel, Fowlmere RSPB, 19th December 2011 © Gary Thornton
Picture chosen by Diana and Richard Pargeter
"A Snow Bunting featured highly in the gallery this month, and there were some excellent records of its presence, however photographically we thought there were better offerings. We very much liked Gary Thornton’s Marsh Tit, and might have chosen Nigel Sprowell’s Short Eared Owl were it not for the blurry twig directly in front of it, but eventually decided on Gary Thornton’s female Kestrel. We frequently have Kestrels hunting over our large rural garden or sitting in our ash tree, and have had them roosting on the house, but have never managed a photo with such good lighting and depth of focus. "
Dunnock, Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB, 30 November 2011 © Colin Brown
Picture chosen by Neil Renwick
"As ever, there were so many good images posted during November, but only members’ photos are eligible for the competition, so that ruled out a few. What a good reason to join! There were many owl images this month - perhaps there should have been a category just for them. I particularly liked Stuart’s barn owl flying towards the camera. Grey partridges can be hard to find, but there were a couple of lovely shots from Jonathan & James. The Fen Drayton Lakes area was well represented – I saw Nigel’s dunlin, so that earned a place on my short list, as did Colin’s image of a little egret, apparently swerving in mid-air. Could I choose a kestrel, sitting on our pheasant-shooting neighbour’s “keep out” sign?
The final choice was between three: Nigel’s dunlin, Jonathan’s marvellous mallard, her orange bill highlighting the orange glow reflected off the lake, and Colin’s dapper dunnock, perched on a bramble without background distractions. Had Colin trained the bird to pose for him? In the end, the glint in the dunnock’s eye clinched it for me. "
Short-Eared Owl and Crow over Fen Drayton Lakes, 16 October 2011 © Colin Brown
Picture chosen by Sandi and Robin Irvine
"We were particularly impressed by the ability of this month’s photographers to ‘capture the moment’. For example, Gary Thornton’s beautifully composed Common Snipe at Fowlmere, and the exquisitely feathered detail of Stuart Elsom’s juvenile Buzzard at Ouse Fen. Nigel Sprowell’s Bearded Reedling at Fen Drayton positively glows (and we also loved his cuddly Barn Owl chicks!). Capturing rarities on film is always a challenge and we acknowledge the skill of Stuart Elsom (Pallid Harrier at Gamlingay Wood and Lilac–breasted Roller at Abbots Ripton), Mark Hawkes (Grey Phalarope at Grafham Water) and Dick Newell (Caspian Gulls at Long Drove, Cottenham). Colin Brown’s Meadow Pipit at Fen Drayton was a fine study in characteristic bird display, but for the sheer drama of the moment caught between two wild animals, his Short-Eared Owl facing off a Crow has got our vote for no. 1 this month."
Sabine's Gull, Grafham Water, Cambridge, 21st September 2011 © Paul Hackett
Picture chosen by Doug Radford
"Scrolling down through the September images, I had no hesitation in deciding which one appealed to me most - the Sabine's Gull at Grafham Water. I imagine some people might prefer other images of this much photographed bird, but I liked the combination of the action and the plumage detail in this one. A real treat!"
Grey Partridge, Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB, Cambridge, 28 August 2011 © Nigel Sprowell
Picture chosen by Malcolm Busby
"It was a tough choice, yes some pictures were of higher quality but the grey partridge has that special feeling for me. The picture shows the bird where it should be seen in an arable field, stubbles in this case, looking round. You can clearly see the lovely chesnut brown head markings and grey neck which help ID it. You can almost imagine the creaking hinge call as you look at the picture. It is a classic but now rare bird of farmland and nice to know they are in the Fen Drayton area. Long may it and they thrive."
Common Rosefinch, Melbourn, Cambridge, 10 July 2011 © James Hanlon
Picture chosen by Ken Sheard
"The availability of high quality lenses and digiscoping, not to mention the skills of the photographer, make choosing a bird photograph of the month an invidious task. The plumage detail of the Turtle Dove and Red-legged Partridge, the visceral shock of the hunting Sparrowhawk, the manoeuvring skill of the House Martin, were beautifully captured and accomplished, as were all the submitted photographs. My judgement was influenced by rarity value, with my choice wavering between the Common Cranes and the Scarlet Rosefinch (James Hanlon). The task would have been easier had the Rosefinch been a male in full breeding plumage, rather than a nondescript looking first-summer bird, but this is a county first, and one that many of us may not see again (I missed it!), so gets my vote on these ground alone."
Grey Heron, Fen Causeway, Cambridge, 14 June 2011 © Graham Eliff
Picture chosen by Monica & Owen Marks
"We liked the busy Common Whitethroats in teasels collecting food for their young by Colin Brown at Fen Drayton, and the Yellow Wagtail with its early morning reflection by Adrian George at Gamlingay. We were also attracted by excellent portraits of Male Bullfinch by Colin Brown and Linnets by Gary Thornton and Garth Peacock. However we have picked as photograph of the month for June 2011 the Grey Heron by Graham Eliff, taken in Fen Causeway. This shy bird was noticed quietly feeding in central Cambridge and photographed by Graham."
Treecreepers, Fen Drayton Lakes, 16 May 2011 © Nigel Sprowell
Picture chosen by Gwen Martin
"From the sixty plus photos in this months picture gallery there were ten that caught my eye. But even considering the ten, nine had no chance against my eventual winner. My biggest problem was which to choose from the sequence of the three pictures of a family of Treecreepers taken at Fen Drayton Lakes by Nigel Sprowell. How fortunate he was to see a family party let alone photograph them. I have difficulty enough to even see one Treecreeper! Nigel admits that the quality "is not as I would like to see" (I would have been over the moon if they were mine), but nevertheless under the conditions I think that all three pictures are fantastic. It's a pity I can't choose them all, is that possible? If not I would have to choose the first for the look of anticipation from one of the birds hoping for a meal. Well done Nigel, I would loved to have seen them."
Sedge Warbler, Fowlmere RSPB, 18 April 2011 © Gary Thornton
Picture chosen by Maggie Hook
"What a bumper crop – and an invidious task! A superb array of photographs from such stars as Colin Brown, Gary Thornton and James Hanlon, plus a stunning Drake Wood Duck from Simon Stirrup, a beautiful Greenshank from Nigel Sprowell and a perfect shot of a Wheatear from Paul Mason, to say nothing of fabulous flight views of Sparrowhawks. However, it was inevitably the collection of warblers that presented me with the most difficulties in selecting just one winner for this month. I greatly admired the patience (and luck?) required to capture on camera such species as Cetti’s Warbler and Nightingale, but it was to the photographs of Groppers that I kept returning. I dithered between the shots of birds in characteristic habitat by James Hanlon at Paxton Pits on 29th, David Hopkins at Wardy Hill on 23rd and Mark Hawkes at Grafham Water on 17th, but then there was the awesome ultra-clean view taken by Gary Thornton on 26th! Finally, I decided to avoid such an impossible choice altogether and picked Gary’s Sedge Warbler of 18th April. A beautifully composed photo, showing the bird in perfect focus - just a shame it wasn’t singing!"
Long-tailed Tit, Foxton, 1 March 2011 © Tom Austin
Picture chosen by Rowena Baxter
"It's never an easy task to pick just one photo from the monthly Gallery list, and March 2011 is no exception. John Le Gassick's Cormorant, and Garth Peacock's Red-Legged Partridge are fine studies. Nigel Sprowell's Barn Owls and his series of passerines are excellent - of these the Robin (21 March) is outstanding. Also I must mention Gary Thornton's two Cetti's Warblers; as the caption says, often heard but much harder to see, let alone photograph well. Redpolls have been very much in evidence lately, and Jim Lawrence and Mark Thomas's pictures will be very useful for comparison in future. There are many more super photos in the March Gallery, but in the end I couldn't resist young Tom Austin's Long-tailed Tit. It just captures the charming inquisitiveness of this tiny bird so well - every time I look at it I have to smile! So, that is my choice."
Treecreeper, Fen Drayton Lakes, 2 February 2011 © Colin Brown
Picture chosen by Elizabeth Scott
"It's been a hard task to select the February photo of the month, with a selection of excellent images ranging from birds in the news (the Peregrine from the Museum of Technology), iconic birds (superb Barn Owls), and beautiful shots of species that one rarely gets a good view of, such as the Bullfinches. I was very tempted by the Barn Owls and also the cheeky Grey Partridge, but in the end I have chosen to nominate Colin Brown’s Treecreeper from 2nd Feb. It’s a beautiful image of a frequently over-looked bird, and also appropriate for this time of year which is a good time to look out for them."
Waxwing, Cambridge, 5 January 2011 © Luca Patriccioli
Picture chosen by Simon Stirrup
"When asked to pick a winner from the January images I looked forward to indulging in a selection dominated by Waxwings. I was not to be disappointed. January was a good month for the variety of birds featured despite a lack of decent light for photographers. Apart from Waxwings, birds included uncommon Cambs species such as Scaup, Common Redpoll, Great Grey Shrike and White-fronted Goose and, rarest of all, Stuart Elsom’s Ring-billed Gull. I was impressed by James Hanlon’s evocative image of a first-winter Caspian Gull - one of my favourite species; Adrian George’s Tree Creeper (how often do you enjoy a view like this, let alone manage to capture it?); and Nigel Sprowell’s study of a female Kestrel. Finally, I returned to the Waxwing images. I liked the clean composition of Garth Peacock’s picture, but after some deliberation, I selected Luca Patriccioli’s Waxwing image because of the pose and the surrounding colourful berries."