Ron snaps up accolade

Female Grouse feeding on heather
Female Grouse feeding on heather

THIS year has been a busy and successful one for Leitholm photographer Ron McCombe and it just got even better with the news that his picture of a grouse taken when Berwickshire was under a blanket of snow, was highly commended at a internationally recognised awards ceremony.

While many of us were happy to be wrapped up indoors when heavy snow battered the region last winter and the one before, Ron was out and about with his camera, grateful for the lack of cars and other humans up in the hills.

Roe deer

Roe deer

One of the shots he was most satisfied with was the one of the grouse, which he went on to name ‘Extreme Foraging’, and he clearly wasn’t the only one impressed by it as it was chosen as one of the top 100 images in the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Quite an achievement when you consider that the panel had over 41,000 pictures sent in from photographers right across the globe.

Ron was told that his image had been highly commended back in June but after being told to keep schtum he’s held it close to his chest for three months.

“It was really hard not to tell everyone the good news,” he said.

“It’s the type of thing you want to shout from the roof tops and they said they wouldn’t be officially releasing the details until October so I’m happy I can now tell people and not have to wait another month!

“The reason I submitted the grouse picture over all the others I’ve taken is that it’s a really atmospheric and quite a poignant one.

“I took it the winter before last at a time when hundreds of grouse were dying because they couldn’t feed. I sat and watched this bird trying to retrieve food and it looked so elegant. It was one of those ‘in the moment’ shots; I wouldn’t have been able to go back and get the same shot again.”

Following recent wins in competitions ranging from Scottish Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Wildlife Scotland and Seabirds of Scotland, 2011 could get even better still for Ron, who’s only being entering pictures seriously for the last six years.

He’s also made the final of British Wildlife Photographer of the year, guaranteeing him a place in the competition’s exhibition due to start touring the UK next month.

But although he’s already found out how he’s got on, like with the Veolia contest he’s been sworn to secrecy.

Like many of us, Ron was left frustrated by the poor weather that the summer gifted us and is keeping his fingers crossed for snow so he can enjoy another fruitful winter.

“There was some really poor weather over the summer which had a bearing on which animals I could take pictures of. I’m currently working on a roe deer project and have also recently captured some stunning shots of red grouse.

“Unlike other people I’m hoping for plenty more snow this winter, I actually like it!”