A hawk is silhouetted against a foggy morning sun. Mark Brett/Western News

Shutter bugs wanted for nature photo contest

The South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club is holding a nature photography contest

Got that NatGeo image of Mother Nature in all her splendour?

Then the South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club has just the contest for you.

Club president Bob Handfield is urging amateur photographers who live in the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to find that award-winning shot to submit to their contest, which opens in the spring of 2018.

“There’s an awful lot of pretty good photographers out there and what we’re trying to do is promote the beauty of the South Okanagan and our club,” said Handfield, who also writes the monthly Nature Wise column for the Western News. “I think conservation is becoming more important to people. When people are asked about their priorities in the Okanagan, keeping nature viable is very high up on the list so we’re hoping this contest will help.

“There are a number of sponsors who have put up prizes. Right now we’re approaching $4,000, and I’m hoping we get that up to $5,000 by the time the contest starts.”

Tentatively, there will be six categories including landscape, birds, waterfowl and mammals with an entry fee of $5 per photo and a discount for more than five submissions.

Entries will be submitted online with the winners selected by a panel of three judges.

One of the potential judges for the contest is club member, artist and photographer, Dianne Bersea.

“I think this contest will get people to take the time to look at things, which is what photography does,” said Bersea, who moved here from Cortez Island four-and-a-half years ago. “I’ve found way more than I expected. I thought it was desert, that it was empty. Not so, it’s full of wonderful, wonderful things and I continue to discover new things every day.

“This is one of the most unique and diverse areas in Canada. Any way we can get people out there taking notes, paying attention, getting involved — I endorse that.”

The Penticton Museum and Archives will be putting up a display in September 2018 of some of the entries.

The Western News is also a sponsor of the contest and readers will have an opportunity to vote for their favourite photos from a selection of entries which will appear on the www.pentictonwesternnews.com.

The South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club was formed in 1962 by a dedicated group of local citizens who genuinely cared about thenatural history and the future of their region.

While most of the 115 members are from this area, some come from as far afield as Vancouver and out of province.

Much more than just bird watchers, club members have played an active role in conservation since the club’s beginning.

They were instrumental in working towards the acquisition of Vaseux Lake Wildlife Refuge including the California Bighorn SheepReserve east of Vaseux Lake.

Each year, the group donates a $500 bursary to Okanagan College to help a student in environmental studies and a $100 prizeto the middle school science fair.

Members also worked with other related organizations in producing The Okanagan Valley Birding Trail Guide (2009) which hasgone on to become the best selling guide to bird watching in the valley.

Since 2011 the club and its members have donated nearly $19,000 to habitat conservation in the South Okanagan.

Monthly meetings are held September through May and often includes a guest speaker. Weekly bird and nature walks take placeon Thursdays.

In addition, from March until October there are two monthly outings including trips to areas like the Kootenays and VancouverIsland.

New members are always welcome. For more information on the contest or club visit www.southokanagannature.com.


An osprey with lunch heads over Skaha Lake to the nest. Mark Brett/Western News

Owls can be found throughout region. Mark Brett/Western News

A winter shot of a mule deer buck on Munson Mountain. Mark Brett/Western News

Wolves can be elusive but make great subjects for photos. Mark Brett/Western News

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