WPY 2011

Photograph Details

Specially commended 2011

Behaviour: Birds

Thomas Hanahoe, UK

Knot lift-off

The bleak mudflats of the Wash Estuary in Norfolk provide an enormous feeding table for waders. As the tide comes in, the flocks are flushed inland. To catch the spectacle, Thom set up on Snettisham beach just before dawn. 'I watched as, in the distance, hundreds of thousands of wading birds took to the air, swirling in unison before swooping low over the shore to settle on the beach,' he says. Tens of thousands of knots roosted together, 'their heads aligned like spectators at a sports event'. But with the arrival of a marsh harrier, all hell let loose. 'The knots erupted into a wall of wings, and the air filled with an intense crescendo of calls. As the wave of birds started to ascend, I pressed the shutter.'

Technical specification

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV + 500mm f4 lens + 1.4x extender at 700mm; 1/2500 sec at f5.6; ISO 1600.

Snettisham, Norfolk, UK: latitude 52.8666, longitude 0.446331 Snettisham, Norfolk, UK: latitude 52.8666, longitude 0.446331

Snettisham, Norfolk, UK

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Thomas Hanahoe, UK

  • A wave of knots