UPY  British Waters Wide Angle - Winner

Matt Doggett

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UPY  British Waters Wide Angle - Winner
'Gannets Feast' - Matt Doggett

With my good friend Richard Shucksmith, I hatched the plan of trying to photograph gannets diving underwater. It was early in the season and their main food source, mackerel, was close inshore. To attract them close enough to my lens, we threw in some dead mackerel from a local supplier, which is commonly done on birding trips to get diving photos above the surface. The gannets went crazy and we were surrounded within minutes. They hit the water at 50-60mph and I had to be fast to get the shots. I was shooting from the hip and rarely looked through the viewfinder. Sometimes the gannets were right on the front of the lens! It was utterly amazing. You could hear them hitting the surface one after another. This shot shows three birds just as the race to reach the fish was over. The lucky bird with the fish would have swallowed it whilst still underwater to avoid being harassed by hungry skuas waiting at the surface.

Judge's comment: Peter Rowlands: There are some images which are, quite literally, breathtaking and this is up there with the best. Timed to perfection and precisely focused, it captures the peak of the action, which must have been extremely frantic. I think I'd have worn a crash helmet with such fast moving and sharp beaks plunging down so fast! Stunning

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