Dmitrii Viliunov, Drone Photo Awards
TAKEN 30 metres up in the air, this shot of a great white heron and grey heron in their respective nests also provides a bird’s-eye view of Russia’s expansive forests, which cover almost half of the country.
Dmitrii Viliunov took the photo near the city of Smolensk using a drone, which offered a unique perspective of this woodland landscape and a rare look into this aspect of the lives of these birds. Viliunov says he was surprised at how “absolutely calm” and unafraid the herons were of the drone, only giving it an occasional glance as they fed their chicks.
Herons are found in aquatic and wetland environments like rivers and lakes, but sometimes venture to mountains and even deserts in search of food. Despite often living near water, herons never nest in reeds or swamps, instead choosing trees. Sometimes, several herons make nests in the same tree, which often leads to fights between close neighbours.
This image, titled “Where Herons Live”, won Viliunov first prize in the wildlife category of the 2020 Drone Photo Awards, a global aerial photography and video competition, and part of the Siena International Photo Awards.
The picture, along with the Drone Awards’ other winning shots, will be showcased at the Above Us Only Sky exhibition at the Museum of Natural History of the Accademia dei Fisiocritici in Siena, Italy, until 29 November.
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