WPY 2013

Photograph Details

Commended 2013

Behaviour: Birds

Pål Hermansen, Norway

Life in the balance

Catching a jay isn't easy. When feeding, jays regularly scan the sky for danger, and at the slightest hint of a threat will let out a loud rasping alarm call. So when a pair of sparrowhawks started to frequent a feeding station in front of Pål's hide in Dalen, Norway, he didn't imagine they would catch a jay. What they did do, though, was bring their young for hunting practice. Time after time their attempts failed, but as the youngsters practised striking, Pål was able to practise his shooting skills. 'In the wild, things often happen so fast that by the time you react, the moment is over,' says Pål. 'So I practised pressing the shutter just before an attack began.' On this occasion, he spotted the adult male sparrowhawk lurking nearby and kept focused on the jay until the anticipated strike. Here, the precision and fear expressed in a split second, barely registered by the human eye, manages to capture the height of the action, the moment when life truly hangs in the balance.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 300mm lens; 1/3200 sec at f2.8; ISO 2500.


Dalen, Norway: latitude 59.444736, longitude 8.011687 Dalen, Norway: latitude 59.444736, longitude 8.011687

Dalen, Norway



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