A Kelseyville man has won "California wildlife photograph of the year" for an image of aerial combat between a hawk and an osprey.
The photography contest was sponsored by California Watchable Wildlife, a coalition of government agencies and nonprofits that manage water, wildlife and habitats in California.
Lyle Madeson, 63, shot the image in April 2010 along Kelsey Creek at Clear Lake State Park. He said he had just shot a series of photos of the osprey catching the fish and was observing the bird with the fish sitting in a tree about 50 yards away. Then the osprey took flight with the fish in its talons and flew straight toward him.
Madeson began shooting the bird in flight, with the motor drive on his Canon 1D digital camera firing at 10 frames per second, handheld with an 800mm lens. It was not until he lowered the camera to look through the images that he realized what had happened.
In half a second, a juvenile red-tailed hawk entered the viewfinder and stole the fish from the osprey's grasp.
"I've shot thousands of pictures, but it's the most incredible picture I've ever shot," Madeson said. "And to be completely frank, it's also probably the luckiest picture I've ever shot."
Madeson, a building contractor, calls photography "a pretty serious sideline hobby" that includes a website, madesonphotography.com.
Prizes for the photo include $200, a pair of Nikon binoculars, and a State Parks annual pass all provided by the independent group California Watchable Wildlife.
The winning photo was one of three finalists featured each month in Outdoor California magazine, published by the California Department of Fish and Game. All finalists can be seen at: http://ht.ly/axxAG.
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