California Wildlife Photo of the Year Winner 2022 – Photographer: Shravan Sundaram
A male Allen’s Hummingbird defends his flower patch from a vantage point. These little birds migrate from central Mexico to California every year to breed in the spring/summer. They are very territorial and will chase off any other hummingbirds of their own species and other species.
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS R5 + EF 100-400mm II + 1.4x III Extender Settings: 1/400s, ISO: 1000, f/8, 560mm

The U.C. Santa Cruz Arboretum is one of Shravan Sundaram’s favorite locations for hummingbird photography. “The variety of interesting plants and foliage and the overcast light conditions really bring out the colors of the Allen’s Hummingbird, which migrate every winter/spring to breed,” he says, adding “I have been photographing hummingbirds there since 2013 and usually try to make it there two or three times a year. I tend to get different backgrounds, foliage and colors in my images.”

The winning image was selected by California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Selecting the wildlife photograph of the year is always difficult because there are so many worthy submissions. This year was no different,” said Director Bonham. “Shravan Sundaram’s shot of a male Allen’s Hummingbird not only captured interesting foliage, light, and the brilliant colors of the bird, it also struck me as a reminder to take time from our busy days to reflect on the importance of nature in our lives.”

On February 23, 2023, Shravan joined Senator Aisha Wahab (D-California Senate 10th District) in a presentation where he received a Senate Proclamation honoring his photograph. He also received a pair of Zeiss Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars donated by Out of this World Optics, a two-night stay at Jay House Vacation Rental, a gift certificate from Chirp Nature Center, and a one-of-a-kind miniature of his hummingbird created by California artist Ann Ranlett. Leading up to the announcement, the top winning images from the 2022 contest were part of a week-long social media presentation. This is Shravan’s second win for California Wildlife Photo of the Year. The only contest photographer to achieve this honor in the 11 years of the contest, he won the California Wildlife Photo the Year in 2017 with an image of a bobcat kitten.

The year’s top finishers included two winning entries selected by representatives from Sierra Nevada Conservancy and Out of This World Optics.

2022 Sierra Nevada Conservancy Winner – Photographer: Julie MacKinnon
Common Merganser & Chicks at Lily Lake near Lake Tahoe
The female called to her ducklings and they all hopped on as she moved away.
Sony A7riv, FE 200-600mm lens at 535mm, 1/800 sec at f / 6.3, ISO 2500

“It was close voting at the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, but the quality and beauty of the merganser photo was undeniable at the end,” according to Chris Dallas, Sierra Nevada Conservancy and photo contest judge.

2022 California Watchable Wildlife Winner – Photographer:  Michele Dodge
Great Egrets battle it out at Effie Yeaw Nature Center
A great egret flew in and attacked another egret.  It was a quick, but violent battle, with one egret shoved under water for a moment, then a wild battle in midair, before one of the egrets left.
Sony A9ii, 200-600 lens.  F9, shutter speed 1/1600, ISO 2000

Selected by Out of this World Optics, they said, “OMG, what a hard choice! They’re all winners. But we must choose, and our favorite is Michele Dodge. The egrets seem to be dancing with each other.”

Celebrating its 12th year, the California Wildlife Photo of the Year 2023 is currently underway. For more information and to submit photos, please visit our website.

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California Watchable Wildlife

California Watchable Wildlife (CAWW) celebrates the state’s wildlife and diverse habitats by acknowledging and elevating the value of wildlife viewing to benefit individuals, families, communities, and industries while fostering awareness and support for wildlife and habitats. To that end, CAWW partners with regional agencies to communicate information about their wildlife and nature tourism assets to the viewing and traveling public.


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