The results are in. From a field of 6,400 photographs captured in 11 different countries, the winners in this year's GDT Nature Photographer of the Year competition have been announced. The competition is exclusive to members of the German Society for Nature Photography (GDT) and showcases an array of remarkable images of the natural world grouped into a variety of categories.

Winner in “Birds” category and overall grand-prize winner
This male kestrel could hardly have chosen a more beautiful perch. The picture was taken in Greifswald, northern Germany.
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Thomas Hempelmann

The top honours in 2022 went to 23-year-old Thomas Hempelmann for his photo of a kestrel perched on a branch bursting with cherry blossoms. The winning shot was the result of a fortuitous encounter with a kestrel that Hempelmann had while he was cycling home from an unsuccessful photography excursion. He initially spotted the raptor on a lamp post and stopped to fire off a few shots. "The pictures were not very special at all. But when the kestrel rose up and then settled between the white blossoms that I had already spotted from the corner of my eye, my heart began to beat faster as I had imagined such a situation many times before," he explained. The bird stayed on the branch just long enough for Hempelmann to capture his award-winning photo.

Also picking up accolades in this year's competition was a shot of a hippo at sunrise in the Masai Mara National Park taken by Jose Fragozo, and a photo of a ritualised fight between stag beetles that was captured by Heinz Buls.

Here's a look at some of the winning entries (and runners-up) from this year's competition:

Winner in “Mammals” category
At sunrise in the Masai Mara National Park (Kenya) a hippo emerges emitting a cloud of water droplets.
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Jose Fragozo
Winner in “Other Animals” category
Ritualized fight of stag beetles at sunset on the Swabian Albs.
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Heinz Buls
Winner in “Plants and Fungi” category
Foxglove and fern in a birch forest near Wahner Heath, western Germany.
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Felix Wesch
Winner in “Landscapes” category
Wintery sunrise at Wegelnburg, Palatinate.
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Steffen Jung
Winner in “Nature’s Studio” category
A wave, illuminated by the rising sun. Black lava rocks provide a dark background.
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Radomir Jakubowski
Runner-up in “Birds” category
A barn owl passes over an LED light. A flash lights up at the end of the exposure time, and a dark cloth dims the background.
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Karsten Mosebach
Runner-up in “Mammals” category
The small stream in our village runs partly underground, where there are still quite a lot of old inlet pipes – the realm of the "sewer rat".
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Jonathan Fieber
Third place in “Nature’s Studio” category
Seagulls in flight photographed with long exposure settings.
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Susanne Venditti
Fifth place in “Mammals” category
A young California sea lion plays with kelp off Islas Coronado (Mexico) while another juvenile watches.
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Celia Kujala
Fourth place in “Other Animals” category
In a small river near Vienna, a dice snake captures a brown trout.
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Kai Kolodziej
Runner-up in “Other Animals” category
A tadpole of the green toad in a muddy puddle.
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Christian-Dietrich Morawitz
Seventh place in “Other Animals” category
Off the Maldives, a reef manta ray (Mobula alfredi) swims with its mouth open through a cloud of zooplankton that has been attracted to the water's surface at night by the light of a boat.
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Andy Schmid
Ninth place in “Mammals” category
A raccoon wanders through a meadow at night.
© GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022/Dominik Janoschka