Bobcat Photo wins top honors in the 2021 California Wildlife Contest
Affectionate image of Livermore native Sue Crow Griffin displayed by a bobcat mother to her offspring along an Alameda County walking trail won the 2021 Grand Prize at the 10th Annual California Wildlife Photo of the Year.
During a virtual celebration on Friday, Feb. 4, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham named Griffin’s photograph the best of all entries in the year-long contest. The contest is presented by California Watchable Wildlife and CDFW’s Outdoor California magazine and sponsored by Sierra Nevada Conservancy and Out of This World Optics.
“When you see this image, your jaw will drop,” Bonham said. “What’s special about this particular image is the way it shows emotion. There’s caring here, love and a sense of tenderness. And on top of that, it’s just a super cool pic.
California Senator Steve Glazer (D – Contra Costa) joined Bonham in presenting Griffin with a legislative resolution for his fulfillment. Traditionally, the winner’s legislative representative invited him upstairs in the California Legislature to announce and honor the winning photo. For the past two years, the presentation has been virtual due to pandemic restrictions.
Griffin recalled how she captured the photo. She said the adult bobcat had just called the youngster to offer him a freshly caught ground squirrel. The pair greeted each other on the branch of a fallen tree before the youngster accepted the squirrel and disappeared into the wooded background.
“I know we’re not supposed to put human emotions on cats, but it was so tender,” she said. “The mother had brought the food; the kitten had eaten and then they shared some time on that log and then they butted each other – it was just precious.
Griffin started walking to improve her health and eventually began taking pictures of what she would see on her travels. Griffin discovered all kinds of wildlife on his daily outings, ranging from bald and golden eagles to coyotes, foxes and a wide variety of birds. But it was the bobcats that did it, she said, noting that she had no photography experience before her walks.
Director Bonham selected the grand prize winner from 17 contest finalists. The competition had a record 741 entries this year.
Contest sponsors showcased the finalists’ entries on social media, giving viewers a chance to see all the best images and build anticipation as the top honors are announced. Additionally, the images are currently shown in an indoor digital display in the lobby of the new California Natural Resources Building in downtown Sacramento.
In addition to Griffin’s Bobcat photography, finalists on display include:
Long-tailed weasel races across the field (Douglas Croft)
Pacific Swallow-tailed Damselfly (Andrew Lincoln)
Black-tailed Jackrabbit at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (Larry Whiting)
Urbane Digger Bee pollinating in the white cosmos (Andrew Lincoln)
Bald-headed Hornet towards California Yellowjacket (Robin Agarwal)
Osprey catches the morning meal (Douglas Phillips)
Bald Eagles in the Angeles National Forest (Andrew Lee)
Yellow-bellied Marmots in Yosemite National Park (Vishal Subramanyan)
Coyote jumping for food in Yosemite National Park (Alice Cahill)
Golden Eagle vs Ground Squirrel (Shravan Sundaram)
Northern Pygmy Owl in the Santa Cruz Mountains (Robin Agarwal)
Spotted Owls at Golden Gate National Recreation Area (Maximilian Rabbitt Tomita)
Sea lions at Channel Islands National Park (Ken Howard)
California Condors at Tejon Ranch (Loi Nguyen)
Virginia kite in-flight food transfer (Don Henderson)
Great Gray Owl at Yosemite National Park (Vishal Subramanyan)
In addition to the contest winner, two other photographers received special recognition from sponsors California Watchable Wildlife and Sierra Nevada Conservancy. California Watchable Wildlife picked Alice Cahill’s photo of a leaping coyote as a favorite, while the Sierra Nevada Conservancy picked Vishal Subramanyan’s photo of a pair of yellow-bellied marmots.
Outdoor California and California Watchable Wildlife first sponsored the contest in 2011 to recognize photographs that depict the diversity of wildlife and viewing experiences found in the state’s natural and wild lands. California Watchable Wildlife celebrates the state’s wildlife and diverse habitats by promoting the value of wildlife viewing to individuals, families, communities, and industries while fostering awareness and support for conservation efforts and protection. Outdoor California magazine features the work CDFW does to protect and enhance the wildlife and natural habitat found throughout the state.
The Sierra Nevada Conservancy joined as a sponsor of the contest after the first year to encourage greater representation from an area rich in wildlife diversity. The other sponsor, Out of This World Optics, presented previous winners with high-end outdoor gear, such as high-powered spotting scopes.