The astonishing winning images in the 2022 Bird Photographer of the Year competition were recently unveiled and the collection includes shots from across the globe that showcase the beauty of not just birds, but also the landscapes they call home. Over 20,000 images were entered into the competition, but it was Norwegian photographer Erlend Haarberg's photo of a rock ptarmigan taking flight over the snow-covered mountains of Tysfjord that took the grand prize.

Rock Ptarmigan Flight
Overall Winner and gold winner in the Birds in the Environment category
High above the tree-line, the wind, snow and cold maintain the iron grip of winter for months on end. This is where Rock Ptarmigan thrive, small white feather-balls in an endless white landscape. On this particular winter day, I was on my way to a mountain top by Tysfjorden to photograph landscapes. I had almost reached the summit when I spotted some ptarmigan tracks criss-crossing between the rocks, where the wind had uncovered some sparse vegetation. From behind a rock, a small head appeared, and seconds later it took to the wing with the mountains and fjord landscape in the background, setting the scene perfectly.
Erlend Haarberg / Bird Photographer of the Year

"High up in the mountains, the wind, snow and cold maintain the iron grip of winter for many months on end. This is where Rock Ptarmigan thrive in an endless white landscape," says Haarberg in a press release. "On this particular winter’s day, I was on my way to a mountain top. I had almost reached the summit when I spotted some ptarmigan tracks in the snow. Soon a bird took flight, with the dramatic backdrop showing what a harsh environment this bird calls home.”

Also landing an award in this year's competition was 17-year-old Swiss photographer Levi Fitze who picked up the Young Bird Photographer of the Year accolade for his image of a dunlin struggling against a sandstorm.

Facing the Storm
Overall winner in the Young Bird Photographer of the Year contest and gold winner in the 14-17 years category
Last autumn I spent a week on the tiny North Sea island of Heligoland. The weather was quite bad and I didn’t see a single nice sunrise. However, the opportunity to observe all kind of shorebirds made up for the conditions. When I saw a group of Dunlin struggling with a small sandstorm, I decided to risk my equipment and attempt to photograph them. I could really see on their faces how annoyed they were by the wind and sand flying everywhere. I sympathised with them.
Levi Fitze / Bird Photographer of the Year

"Once again our talented photographers have cast a light on the incredible diversity of bird life that we share our planet with," says Will Nicholls, Director of Bird Photographer of the Year. "But it is also a stark reminder of what we stand to lose if we don’t continue to look after the natural world and fight for its protection from the many threats that exist today."

This year, the competition donated funds to partner charity Birds on the Brink, an organisation that provides vital funding to grassroots bird conservation projects around the world. 

Here's a look at some of the winning shots.

Duelling On The Lek
Gold winner in the Bird Behaviour category
During the spring breeding season, male Sage Grouse gather on traditional lekking sites and often engage in short but violent fights. They have an elaborate display designed to attract and impress females and show their superiority; inevitably this leads to rivalry between males and challenges on the lek. I set up my ground hide a safe distance from the lek a couple of days before the photoshoot. I entered my hide in the middle of the night, trying to sleep as best I could before the early-morning hours. At first light I awoke to booming sounds made by the male grouse, and the sight of their unusual display and this particular battle. No bait or calls were used.
Peter Ismert / Bird Photographer of the Year
Silo Mural
Gold winner in the Birds in Flight category
Large areas of Australia are flat, dry and given over to wheat farming. Towns can consist of as little as a truck stop and a collection of grain silos. In some locations, these silos have become popular palettes for enormous murals, drawing tourists into otherwise desolate areas. I passed through Yelarbon and stopped for two hours to photograph the Galahs that are attracted to spilt grain. The results were so pleasing and surreal that I made the seven-hour trip on a subsequent weekend to have another go, only to find that a mouse plague had moved in and the silos were being fumigated – no Galahs. (Mural: Brightsiders.)
Raoul Slater / Bird Photographer of the Year
Sleeping Beauty
Gold winner in the Attention to Detail category
While most images of King Penguins seem to be of striking adult birds, there is a definite cuteness to the chicks in their brown ‘teddy bear’ plumage. This chick was asleep at Volunteer Point in the Falkland Islands, and I took the opportunity to capture the details around the beak, eye and ear, the latter seldom seen.
Andy Pollard / Bird Photographer of the Year
Hoot are you?
Gold winner in the 8 and under category
One of my parents’ friends, who lives nearby, took us on a hike to a location where she had seen Barred Owl chicks earlier in the week. Amazingly, we were just a few minutes into the hike when we heard them calling. Eventually we got to see four owlets, which was amazing. One landed close by and peered at me from behind a tree trunk in a way that seemed to express curiosity. I was thrilled to be able to capture the moment and pleased that the judges appreciated the photo.
Arjun Jenigiri / 
Bird Photographer of the Year
Over the City
Gold winner in the Urban Birds category
This image was taken from the rooftop of one of the towering skyscraper buildings that dominate the skyline of Abu Dhabi. It shows a line of Greater Flamingos flying on a morning when fog covered the city and the only signs of the urban landscape were the tops of the buildings emerging from the blanket of mist. At the time it seemed a bit like a fantasy, a fleeting moment made surreal as the birds unexpectedly flew past. Fortunately, I was prepared for action and my zoom lens allowed me to frame the birds and capture the moment.
Ammar Alsayed Ahmed / Bird Photographer of the Year
Strut Performer
Gold winner in the Best Portrait category
You know that springtime has arrived on the prairies of the Great Basin of the American West when the Sage Grouse gather at their leks. On these traditional display grounds, males of this Near Threatened species perform their strutting displays in the hope of winning the right to mate. This behaviour is for the benefit of the females, which judge the talent show and select the best genes to pass on to the next generation. I arrived at the lek more than an hour before the birds so I could set up my hide without causing disturbance. Similarly, with the best interests of the birds at heart, I packed up the hide only when the last bird had left the area. In previous years I had tried to capture this type of portrait shot but had been unsuccessful. However, on this particular morning my luck changed when this bird wandered close to my hide in full display. The photograph was taken without using baiting, calls, lures or unethical practices of any kind.
Ly Dang / Bird Photographer of the Year
Between Two Worlds
Gold winner in the Black and White category
Ten metres down, I found myself hovering between two worlds. Below, an enormous school of fish covered the bottom as far as I could see. Above, a single Double-crested Cormorant patrolled the surface, catching its breath and peering down at a potential underwater feast. The cormorant, better designed for swimming than flying, would dive down at speed, aggressively pursuing the fish. The school would move in unison to escape the bird’s sharp beak, making it difficult to isolate a single target. More often than not, the bird returned to the surface empty-billed, and peace would momentarily be restored. I would squint up at the sunny surface, trying to keep track of the predator and anticipate its next underwater raid. This image captures the hostile black silhouette of the cormorant as it dives down onto its prey, which for a brief moment remain unaware of the danger above.
Henley Spiers / Bird Photographer of the Year
Gold winner in the 9-13 years category
In Fremont there is a water fountain that is a hotspot for hummingbirds. The birds like to bathe in the water, or in this case catch and sip the droplets. When the birds fly around among the droplets, it provides great opportunities for photography. I had to use a very fast shutter speed to freeze the water droplets and the wings of this Anna’s Hummingbird.
Parham Pourahmad / Bird Photographer of the Year
The Doting Couple
Bronze winner in the Best Portrait category
I have seen Purple-crested Turacos on hundreds of occasions and have always tried to take special photographs of them. They are such iconic African birds and are sought-after subjects. Unfortunately, they are shy characters and tend to avoid camera lenses. However, while birding in a small conservancy in the Lower Mpushini area near Pietermaritzburg my luck with them changed completely. Seemingly out of nowhere, this exquisite pair flew out from thick cover and landed a few metres in front of me while I was searching for African Emerald Cuckoos (Chrysococcyx cupreus) in the canopy. The turaco pair seemed much more interested in each other than in me, which allowed for some unbelievable photographic moments. All in all, it was a dream encounter and I felt privileged to share such an intimate moment with them.
Richard Flack / Bird Photographer of the Year
Puffin Love
Silver winner in the Best Portrait category
As the morning sun glistens over the surface of the ocean below, a pair of Atlantic Puffins beautifully stationed on a dramatic cliff edge reinforce the intimate bond that exists between them. Because of the intensity and sheer beauty of the colours being reflected off the sea, I decided to expose for the setting rather than the birds to create a silhouette of the puffins as they came together. This image perfectly captures the moment.
Brad James / Bird Photographer of the Year
Bronze winner in the Birds in Flight category
This image shows a small flock of Lesser and Greater flamingos as they fly over Lake Logipi in northern Kenya. Recent rains had covered the previously empty lake with a shallow depth of water. This had awakened dormant microscopic algae in the lake bed, which caused the red coloration in the image and mixed with yellow and brown sediment washed into the lake from the Suguta River. High rates of evaporation resulting from searing air temperatures had begun to produce soda salt floes on the lake surface. Huge numbers of flamingos regularly gather on this remote lake to feed on the specialist brine invertebrates here, which themselves feed on the algae. I took this image from a light aircraft with the doors removed on one side.
Paul Mckenzie / Bird Photographer of the Year
Starling at Night
Silver winner in the Birds in Flight category
This image was taken using flash, with the camera in rear curtain synch mode. To attract the Common Starling, I placed some sunflower seeds in a feeder, and as the bird came towards the feeder, I timed the shot to capture its descent. Timing was critical, as was the need to balance the flash with the ambient light so you could see the trail of the starling while the flash ‘froze’ the bird in flight. The coloured gels on the flash heads add to the image, giving it a feeling that the bird is lurking in the shadow of the night.
Mark Williams / Bird Photographer of the Year
Winter Swans
Bronze winner in the Black and White category
I like looking at the world from an alternative perspective and, when I do, common species and familiar landscapes sometimes take on an otherworldly appearance and become extremely interesting. I encounter Mute Swans regularly on this lake, but this was the first time I had photographed them using a drone. I took this image not far from my home, while the lake was frozen. The ice paints the landscape with beautiful shapes and the swans add context, the whole scene working particularly well in black and white. Such a situation was probably a one-off and will never be repeated.
Tomasz Sczansny / Bird Photographer of the Year
Silver winner in the Urban Birds category
This image was taken in Transylvania in Romania, not far from one of my favourite Natura 2000 sites. Only rarely are there days when this highly respected protected area fails to deliver from a bird photography point of view. However, on such days I know I have a fall-back option, namely an abandoned building where Little Owls have nested for more than a decade. Last year, on one of these Plan B days, I arrived at the building following heavy rain and discovered that the Little Owl family had grown: three chicks had hatched a few weeks previously. To my relief, I was ‘welcomed’ by the whole family, and while four of them were drying their feathers on the roof, one of the chicks was under it, posing in an odd way and with what looked like an air of resignation. To my eyes I could see a resemblance to Gonzo, the famous character from The Muppet Show.
Laszlo Potozky / Bird Photographer of the Year
Guillemot Swimmers
Silver winner in the Bird Behaviour category
Common Guillemots (Common Murres) are incredible freedivers – so good, in fact, that studies have shown that of all flying birds, this humble species is the most efficient swimmer. It is bested in the water only by penguins, with which it shares similar stylistic traits. The difference, of course, is that penguins – perhaps descended from the same auk family as Common Guillemots – sacrificed their ability to fly as they adapted to an aquatic existence.
Henley Spiers / Bird Photographer of the Year
Schalow’s Turaco
Bronze winner in the Birds in Flight category
In more than a decade of wildlife photography I’ve never seen a decent photo of a Schalow’s Turaco in flight. Google it for yourself if you don’t believe me.
These stunningly dressed birds spend most of their time high in the dark jungle canopy and are extremely fast in flight – I think of them as ‘bullet’ birds. This combination makes them almost impossible to photograph in flight. You can imagine my excitement when I found out a few birds were flying across the river in front of my safari tent each morning at eye level! My heart pounded as I stood on the bank waiting patiently as they called out from the tree tops. I just knew this was the opportunity of a lifetime. The river setting was a unique window of opportunity that provided just a split second to acquire focus. A green bird on a green background is a nightmare for an autofocus system, but I knew my new camera’s tracking system, and a decade of photographing birds in flight gave me a fighting chance. On my last morning in camp the diffused overcast light was just beautiful. This is it, I thought. The colour of the birds’ vibrant red wings popped out from the tree tops at a distance. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw this individual emerging from the canopy like a bullet and coming diagonally straight towards me. I panned, my thumb glued to the back button as the camera tried to grab initial focus. Nothing... then bam! I couldn’t believe it. I acquired focus just before the bird flew out the edge of the frame. But was it sharp? Reviewing the image on the back of the camera, my face lit up. This image captured the moment, and what a remarkably beautiful avian creature it was. It was a true gem to witness and I am thrilled to share the photographic outcome with the rest of the world.
Aaron Baggenstos / Bird Photographer of the Year
Pied Avocet Chick
Silver winner in the 14-17 years category
This photograph was taken in an area I have known for a long time – it is a soda lake called Nagyszéksós-tó, near the town of Mórahalom. Kinskunság National Park introduced Water Buffalos (Bubalus bubalis) at least ten years ago, and the beneficial outcome has been that the birdlife has become very rich and diverse. Until now, I have photographed only adult birds at this location, but I managed to observe and photograph Pied Avocet chicks in early summer. After prolonged observation, I edged my way closer to the birds. The parent birds soon overcame any nervousness and soon got used to my presence; I was an insignificant addition to the nearby Water Buffalos, which dwarfed me. The chicks went about their business a few metres away from me, and fed and preened quite happily. I was lucky enough to be able to photograph this chick backlit, and as a result I took some really special images.
Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz / Bird Photographer of the Year