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DDWS announces ‘Ding’ Day photo contest winners

By Staff | Oct 24, 2019

KENT JAGER “White-eyed Vireo” won first place.

On Oct. 20, the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge announced the winners of its annual “Ding” Darling Day Amateur Nature Photography Contest at a special presentation in the refuge’s Visitor & Education Center as part of the “Ding” Day celebration.

On Oct. 8, judges had selected three winners and 11 honorable mentions out of 191 entries from 20 states and Switzerland – one of the highest number of entries in the contest’s 27 years. All photograph entries were shot at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge complex on Sanibel.

First place went to Kent Jager, of Sanibel, for his white-eyed vireo portrait. Contest judge and professional photographer David Meardon remarked on the bird’s rare appearances at the refuge and the photographer’s exacting technique.

“The lighting is even, the bird is sharp and separated well from the soft green background,” he said. “And the bird is expressive.”

Martha Huard, of Bokeelia, took second place with a photo of a yellow-crowned night heron titled “Flight.”

MARTHA HUARD “Flight” won second place.

“I like the simplicity of the pattern,” DDWS Past President Doris Hardy, an avid birder and refuge volunteer who also judged the contest, said. “I like the colors, and I think it will reproduce quite well. And I like this bird; I see it a lot when we are out removing monofilament from the refuge.”

In third place was Larry Brophy, of Fort Myers, with an American alligator shot titled “Keep Your Distance.”

“We usually see a lot of birds in the contest, but the alligator is also an iconic refuge animal,” Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland, the third judge, said. “Reptiles are so often misrepresented; we need to give them some love.”

“We always choose three judges for the contest,” DDWS Emeritus Board Member Terry Baldwin, who coordinates the contest along with Development Officer Sierra Hoisington, said. “They include a refuge staff member, a professional photographer and a member of the Sanibel community.”

The three winners received cash awards from DDWS at the presentation – $300 for first place, $225 for second, and $175 for third. In addition, each honorable mention winner received a $25 award, which reflects a refund of the contest entry fee.

LARRY BROPHY “Keep Your Distance” won third place.

They included:

– Virginia Bayne, of Fort Myers, “Stance of the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron”

– Frank Brinker, of Switzerland, “Refreshing Bath”

– Thomas Brott, of Cape Coral, “Reddish Preening”

– Bill Fischer, of Sanibel, “Mangrove Cuckoo Flying”

PHOTO PROVIDED Contest judges pore over 191 entries: photographer David Meardon, DDWS Past President Doris Hardy and Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland.

– Chris Gutierrez, of Holbrook, New York, “Shells on Shells”

– Haoyu Li, of Lake Placid, “Bullying”

– Karen Lund, of Fort Myers, “Grab and Catch”

– David Mintz, of Lehigh Acres, “Breakfast”

– Liz Noffsinger, of Fort Myers, “Waiting for Food”

– Sharon Peace, of Center, Texas, “Mr. Roseate”

– Marletta Short, of Sanibel, “Learning to Fly”

The winning photographs and honorable mention award entries will be on display in the refuge’s Education Center throughout the year.

To view the other top-ranking entries, or for information about the refuge’s 75th Anniversary Celebration photo contest in 2020, visit dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/photo-contests.