An ‘imaginative’ image of a mute swan has triumphed in the inaugural Bird Photographer of the Year competition, eclipsing more than 6,500 entries worldwide.

© Andy Parkinson

Andy Parkinson from Matlock in Derbyshire beat photographers from 40 countries to claim the £5,000 top prize (see image above).

AndyParkinson_BPOTY.web

Overall winner Andy Parkinson [© Andy Parkinson]

Describing the win as a ‘massive honour’, Parkinson said: ‘I always strive… to produce genuinely unique images, revealing familiar subjects in different ways…

‘This is achieved by spending months or years working with local subjects, building an encyclopaedic knowledge of behaviour, light and perspective.

‘I’m delighted that my endeavours have been so generously rewarded.’

The competition’s head judge Chris Packham said: ‘We upload more than 700 billion photographs each year and, as much as they communicate in many ways, in terms of photographic merit the vast majority are total rubbish.

‘What we are looking for are those images which have an instant and enduring “wow” factor.’

Commenting on the challenge presented by photographing birds, Packham said: ‘They fly off, don’t listen to a word you say and are a much favoured subject in the wildlife photography genre – hence there is massive competition, making it hard to say something new with an image.

‘But the winning image exemplifies this art perfectly – a much photographed, familiar and accessible subject is represented in an entirely new and fabulously imaginative way. Roll on next year.’

The 2017 competition is open for entries until 30 November 2016. For details visit birdpoty16.picturk.com/pages/rules.

The best photos are due to be exhibited at The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Surrey, from 10 September-29 January 2017.

Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2015 Caption: Fish in the ring Category: Bird Behaviour Photographer: Bence Mate Taken on: 8/10/2014 Email: photocompetitions@matebence.hu Address: Mezo utca 2/B, Pusztaszer, Csongrad County, 6769, Hungary Telephone: +3630427408 Description: Night Heron fishing. Date: 2014-10-08 Location: Hungary, Kiskunsag National Park I give my permission for this photograph to be added to the bto archive: true I confirm that this is not a captive bird: true© Bence Mate

Antarctica, Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) leaping from water on rocky shoreline near Port Lockroy on Wiencke Island© Paul Souders/Worldfoto

Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2015 Caption: A too big bite Category: Bird Behaviour Photographer: Bence Mate Taken on: 27/3/2014 Email: photocompetitions@matebence.hu Address: Mezo utca 2/B, Pusztaszer, Csongrad County, 6769, Hungary Telephone: +3630427408 Description: A Hamerkop trying to swallow its prey, just before letting it go. Date: 2014-03-27 Location: South Africa, Mkuze I give my permission for this photograph to be added to the bto archive: true I confirm that this is not a captive bird: true

© Bence Mate

Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2015 Caption: Lightning Category: Birds in the Environment Photographer: Bence Mate Taken on: 14/6/2015 Email: photocompetitions@matebence.hu Address: Mezo utca 2/B, Pusztaszer, Csongrad County, 6769, Hungary Telephone: +3630427408 Description: While the lights of the storm do not really disturb the birds, the lightning of the photo flesh scares them. Date: 2015-06-14 Location: Hungary, Kiskunsag National Park I give my permission for this photograph to be added to the bto archive: true I confirm that this is not a captive bird: true© Bence Mate

Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2015 Caption: Humming Category: Birds in Flight Photographer: Bence Mate Taken on: 12/12/2015 Email: photocompetitions@matebence.hu Address: Mezo utca 2/B, Pusztaszer, Csongrad County, 6769, Hungary Telephone: +3630427408 Description: Costa Rica is famous for its amazing diversity of birds, one of them is Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. Hummingbird name is referring to the fast movings of their wings, sounding like humming. Date: 2015-12-12 Location: Costa Rica, Boca Tapada I give my permission for this photograph to be added to the bto archive: true I confirm that this is not a captive bird: true© Bence Mate

Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) flock, flying over water, Medway Estaury, Shellness, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, England, January.© Robert Canis

Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2015 Caption: creative06 Category: Creative Imagery Photographer: Rachel Piper Taken on: 22/12/2013 Email: racheltpiper@gmail.com Address: 70 Belmont Road, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP3 9NU, United Kingdom Telephone: +447758930642 Description: Murmuration of starlings with oil paint filter to express movement. Date: 2013-12-22 Location: Tring Reservoirs, Herts I give my permission for this photograph to be added to the bto archive: true I confirm that this is not a captive bird: true© Rachel Piper

Sedge warbler (Acrocephalus scoenobaenus) singing in reedbed in early morning. Norfolk, UK. May 2015. Nikon D4S, AF-S Nikkor 500mm f4 lens, TC-14EII teleconverter, tripod. 1/5000s @ f5.6, ISO 640.

© Chris Gomersall

The Bird Photographer of the Year is organised by the British Trust for Ornithology and Nature Photographers Ltd.

The winners were announced at BirdFair 2016, held in Egleton, Rutland, last weekend.

A 256-page book showcasing more than 230 of the best images is available via www.bto.org.

To view more of this year’s winners, visit birdpoty16.picturk.com/pages/winners.