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Ding Photo Contest Winners

First Place: Ben Vanos’ “Green Heron Raising its Crest”

Second Place: Paul Brook’s “Mangrove Cuckoo with iO Moth Caterpillar”

Third Place: Linda Kruleski’s “Hawk with Snake”


“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) recently announced the winners of its annual “Ding” Darling Days Amateur Nature Photography Contest.

Judges selected three winners and 10 honorable mentions out of 90 entries from 19 states and one foreign country. All photograph entries were shot at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge complex on Sanibel Island.

First place went to Ben Vanos of Traverse City, Mich., for his green heron portrait titled “Green Heron Raising its Crest.” Contest judge Janet Kirk, a local professional photographer, commented: “It’s not an unusual bird, but they have such personalities. I love how it’s perched on that stump. And the focal point is perfect.”

Paul Brooke from Ames, Iowa, took second place with his photo of a mangrove cuckoo munching a worm. Judge David Moore, a “Ding” Darling law enforcement officer, liked “the colors, the lighting, just the intimacy of the shot. Obviously it was a difficult shot to get.”

In third place was Linda Kruleski from Beverly Hills, Fla., with her hawk and snake shot. “The timing was perfect!” said Millie Ford, the third judge and a DDWS emeritus board member. “If it were shot a second earlier or later, he’s not going to get that snake.”

“We always choose three judges for the contest,” said Terry Baldwin, contest coordinator. “A refuge staff member, a professional photographer, and a member of the Sanibel community.”

The winning photographs and honorable mention award entries will be on display in the Refuge Education Center throughout the year.

To view the other top-ranking entries, visit dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/photo-contests.


HONORABLE MENTIONS (in alphabetical order):

Frank Brinker, Oberageri, Switzerland – roseate spoonbills
Ronald Clarke, Millburn, NJ – roseate spoonbill
Rebecca Clemens, Sanibel, Fla. – black-crowned night-heron
Beverly Henson, Sanibel, Fla. – black-necked stilt
James Lotstein, Canton, Conn. – reddish egret
Douglas McRae, Pierrepont Manor, NY – reddish egret
Liz Noffsinger, Fort Myers, Fla. – reddish egret and white ibis
Ellen Maas Pratt, White Bear Lake, Minn. – double-crested cormorant and sheepshead
Allen Sparks, Cordova, Tenn. – reddish egret
Charles Woodrich, Glen Allen, Va. – green heron

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