WPY 2011

Photograph Details

Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011

Grand title winner

Winner 2011

11-14 Years

Mateusz Piesiak, Poland

Pester power

Mateusz wrapped his camera in a waterproof sack and began to crawl along the wet sand, aiming to get close to a group of American oystercatchers on a beach on Long Island, New York. The birds were so absorbed in foraging that they ignored him, sometimes scuttling within arm's length in their search for shellfish. One young oystercatcher kept trying to find its own food. 'When it saw an adult with a morsel,' says Mateusz, 'it would run over with loud queep queep cries and try to snatch it. Sometimes the adult would give in. At other times, there would be a noisy quarrel.'

Mateusz spent so long watching this pester power, he didn't notice the tide coming in until a big wave washed over him. 'I managed to hold my camera up high,' he says. 'I was cold and wet, with sand in my ears, but I had my shot.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 40D + 400mm f5.6 lens; 1/800 sec at f5.6 (-1.3 e/v); ISO 400.

Long Island, New York, USA: latitude 40.7891, longitude -73.135 Long Island, New York, USA: latitude 40.7891, longitude -73.135

Long Island, New York, USA

Intellectual property rights to all WPY images are retained by the photographers. Reproduction without prior written consent constitutes an actionable infringement. For usage enquiries please contact us.

Sign up to receive emails from the Natural History Museum about events and exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Mateusz Piesiak, Poland

Mateusz took his first pictures, of lapwings, when he was six years old. Since then, bird photography has been his passion. He credits Polish ornithologist Tadeusz Drazny for inspiring him and teaching him how to identify birds and their songs. ‘Wildlife photography is difficult,’ he says, ‘but it gives me a lot of satisfaction.’

  • Last light