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New Jersey has over 95 endangered and threatened species.

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2016 Photo Contest Winners

In 2016, Conserve Wildlife Foundation launched the “For the Love of Wildlife” Photo Contest to showcase the love for and need to protect New Jersey's wildlife. Over 1,470 entries were received! New Jersey wildlife photographers, CWF board members and staff poured over the entries to choose our winners. First, Second, and Third place winners in both youth and adult categories for 2016 are listed below.

First Place Winners

Youth Photographer: Francesca Buchalski, Allentown, New Jersey
Praying Mantis

Francesca was so happy to have won our contest! She shared more about the image and her passion for photography with CWF: “I took that photo at the Cape May Meadow during last year’s fall hawk migration festival. My mom and I are avid birders, and we love going to the migrations in Cape May! We were bringing up the rear on a guided walk, and just as we started walking down the path through the reeds, I heard ‘Wows!’ and ‘Cools!’ up ahead. As we caught up, we saw that everyone was looking at a praying mantis perched on a man’s telephoto lens! I had my camera with me to photograph birds, but that was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed! I thought it was pretty interesting and ironic that the man couldn’t photograph the praying mantis, even though it was on his camera (he couldn’t stop laughing), and it posed there for a long time. It was a great way to start the walk!

Image of Praying Mantis on Lens, by youth first place winner Francesca Buchalski.Zoom+ Praying Mantis on Lens, by youth first place winner Francesca Buchalski.

I’ve only been photographing wildlife for about 3 years, just for fun. I started off by taking pictures of the birds that came to our feeders, and now I bring my camera on all of my birding adventures. As for my favorite New Jersey species…that’s a tough one! I think I would have to go with the osprey; they’re so charismatic in their coloring, hunting habits, and cool ‘opposable’ talon. I also really enjoy how easy it is to observe them by boat; whenever I think about the wetlands or the back bays of New Jersey, I automatically think ‘osprey.’ They also have such a great comeback story, its almost impossible not to love them!

A close second would be the horseshoe crab; I find it simply incredible that they have remained unchanged for millions of years, and that so many migrating shorebirds depend on them. And who can forget their incredible immune system and blue blood! I also love how you can learn about and help horseshoe crabs by participating in hands on counting, tagging, and flipping walks (my mom and I have done some of those, and they’re such great experiences!)

New Jersey has such an amazing array of wildlife, and sadly, so many people miss it amid all of the big cities; big thanks to everyone at Conserve Wildlife {Foundation} for helping to promote New Jersey’s wildlife and keep them around for years to come!”

Adult Photographer: Bill Dalton, Interlaken, New Jersey
Black Skimmer

Bill was so pleased to have won our contest. He said he is “truly honored to have {his} ‘Sky Skimmer’ photo selected as the grand prize winner from such a prestigious organization.”

Image of Sky Skimmer, by adult first place winner Bill Dalton.Zoom+ Sky Skimmer, by adult first place winner Bill Dalton.

Bill explained to CWF, “I once read that a photographer’s definition of luck is: Preparedness over opportunity = LUCK! That was certainly the case when I photographed the skimmers at Forsythe on a early spring morning. On a previous visit, I saw a mature peregrine falcon perched at sunrise not far from the observation tower. I returned a day or two later with the proper equipment for low light, high speed photography, with hopes to get early light shots of the peregrine. The falcon was there but I noticed 6 to 10 black skimmers feeding about 50 yards from my location. The light from the predawn sky and clouds reflected perfectly on the windless water’s surface. I took about 50 shots but one shot caught the skimmer in exactly the right position. The line between sky and water vanished! The camera should get all the credit, I just pushed a button! I’ve been a nature photographer (hobby) for decades. My first camera back in the 70’s was a Minolta SRT 101. Boy has photography come a long way since the days of only film!

I love to kid people by telling them I’m an endangered species. By that, I mean, I was born and raised in Monmouth County. One of the most important goals in {CWF}’s mission statement is, ‘educating everyone who lives in New Jersey about our shared wild heritage and our shared responsibility to protect it.’ We’ve come a long way in accomplishing those goals but so much more has to be done.

I must admit being a born and raised Jersey Shore boy that my favorite species is the osprey. I vividly remember back in the 1950’s asking my dad while driving down a shore road in Monmouth County, why the power company men were knocking down bird’s nests that were atop of the poles! Those nests were ospreys and the nests on the poles were considered a nuisance! Years later I am proud to have been partly responsible for one of the first osprey nesting programs in Monmouth County. I convinced the company I worked for to enter into an agreement with the NJDEP to relocate a nest from the Keansburg pier to our location in Union Beach. At that time ospreys were on the threatened and endangered species list.

The transfer of the nest was successful and at that time (1987) it was the most northern osprey nest in Monmouth County. Now I see nests in dozens of locations throughout the county! The osprey is truly an example (along with many other species) on how educating the public about our wildlife heritage worked!

My work has been wildly published over the years including leading magazines, books and educational publications. National Geographic has published my work several times, most recently in their book, ‘Sublime Nature: Photographs That Awe and Inspire.’ Once again, thanks to the judges and staff of the Foundation for this wonderful award.”

Second Place Winners

Youth Photographer: Kayleigh Young, Cresskill, New Jersey
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Image of Golden-crowned kinglet, by youth second place winner Kayleigh Young.Zoom+ Golden-crowned kinglet, by youth second place winner Kayleigh Young.

Kayleigh was happy to share more about her image with us! She said, “after placing third in CWF’s 2015 Species on the Edge 2.0 Multimedia Contest, I was invited to join a birding trip on which I took this picture. I’ve always loved photographing wildlife, because I absolutely love nature, hiking, and the outdoors. I don’t think I can choose a single favorite species because I truly do love all animals; if I had to, I would say a fox maybe.”

Adult Photographer: Howie Williams, Oceanville, New Jersey
Mobbed Eagle
Image of Mobbed eagle, by adult second place winner Howie Williams.Zoom+ Mobbed eagle, by adult second place winner Howie Williams.

Howie Williams has been photographing nature, especially raptors, for over 8 years. Peregrine falcons are his favorite bird (because of their raw speed), followed by ospreys, and eagles are a close third. Howie was hooked on photography after watching an osprey family at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) several years ago. He watched the chicks grow from when they were two weeks old to their first flight!

Howie frequents Forsythe NWR, which is where his winning photograph was taken. A juvenile eagle was sitting on an osprey nest platform. Howie heard a screech and a yell, looked up and saw another juvenile eagle fly in and land on the platform too. He took the above photograph at that moment! Howie couldn’t get both eagles in the frame. In the original shot, you can see just the talons from the other eagle, but he cropped them out for the image he submitted for our contest.

Howie is retired and spends five days a week photographing raptors. He often posts his photographs in the “visitor post” section of our Facebook page. Howie told CWF, “what’s the point of taking pictures without sharing them with people? Where’s the fun in that?”

Third Place Winners

Youth Photographer: Edana Lobosco, Highland Lakes, New Jersey
“Frog in Hands”
Image of “Frog in Hands”, by youth Third Place Winner Edana Lobosco.Zoom+ “Frog in Hands”, by youth Third Place Winner Edana Lobosco.

In an interview with CWF, Edana said, “Thank you so much for picking my photo and giving me a chance to show off my photography!! I took this photo on the Appalachian Trail in Vernon, New Jersey, my friend scooped him up and it was a perfect photo op! I’ve been taking nature photos since the first time I ever picked up a camera. It started with just my mom’s flowers in her garden, and now whenever I’m outside I never forget my camera. There’s so many beautiful creatures in New Jersey, I don’t know if I can choose a favorite! I love watching the painted turtles in my lake sunbathe, and I love the variety of wildflowers that grow around the Garden State!”

Adult Photographer: Matthew Sullivan, Lambertville, New Jersey
Northern Gray Treefrog
Image of Northern Gray Treefrog, by adult Third Place Winner Matthew Sullivan.Zoom+ Northern Gray Treefrog, by adult Third Place Winner Matthew Sullivan.

Matthew says, “Treefrog breeding season is one of my favorite times of year in New Jersey. I was out looking to get this shot of a Pine Barrens Treefrog instead, but none of the ones I found would call no matter how long I sat there. This gray treefrog though was more than willing to sing loudly for me, I just had to time it right and after a few tries, I got my shot. I’ve been seriously photographing nature for 6 or 7 years now, but have been outside looking for wildlife since I was old enough to walk. My personal favorite animals in New Jersey are the reptiles and amphibians, even more specifically, Pine Barrens Treefrogs, Timber Rattlesnakes, and Eastern Hognoses.”

Find Related Info: Amphibians, Bald Eagles, Beach Nesting Birds, Invertebrates

2016 Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest Story Map

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