Arcata Photographer Wins Outdoor California Magazine’s Annual Wildlife Photo Contest

Heermann's gull and elegant terns
Photo by Leslie Scopes Anderson

The interaction between three elegant terns and an intruding Heermann’s gull has earned Arcata photographer Leslie Scopes Anderson the title of grand prize winner for the 2014 California Wildlife Photograph of the Year contest.

In January, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham selected the dynamic shot, taken at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, from a group of five finalists. The yearlong contest is sponsored by Outdoor California magazine, California Watchable Wildlife Inc. and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

“The colors and sharpness of this photo are outstanding,” Bonham said. “But, it’s the interaction between the gull and the terns that stays in your mind. Pictures do tell a thousand words, and even if it’s only in our imagination, this offers us a peek into wildlife interactions—the establishing of nature’s pecking order.”

On March 16, California Senator Mike McGuire will recognize Anderson on the floor of the Senate for her winning photograph. McGuire represents the Second Senate District—North Coast/North Bay area, which includes Anderson’s hometown. Enlarged reproductions of the five finalists and two honorable mentions by contest sponsors will hang outside the Governor’s Office at the Capitol from March 16 to 20. After that, the display will move to the Natural Resources Building, 1416 Ninth St. in Sacramento, for a two-week engagement.

Anderson’s photograph won first place in the May/June issue of Outdoor California. The magazine publishes six times a year and the panel of judges selected a first-place winner in each issue that represented the two-month judging period.

In 2011, Outdoor California joined with Watchable Wildlife Inc., to offer a venue that could showcase outstanding photographs of state’s native species and natural habitat. After its first year, the contest drew the sponsorship of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. The California Coastal Conservancy joins the contest this year as a new sponsor.

Today, the contest continues to acknowledge photographs that illustrate the state’s diverse wildlife and the viewing experience that are found throughout its natural and wild lands. The contest runs throughout the year and at the end of each year, the winner is selected by the CDFW director.

During the 2014 competition, photographers entered more than 200 images for consideration. Judging was conducted by the editor of Outdoor California, the Mount Lassen Area Manager for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and last year’s grand prize winner.

Anderson traces her love of photography back to her first camera, when she was 12. She became her high school yearbook photography editor and minored in the art form in college. At 19, she earned Best of Show at the Utah State Fair.

After selling a successful graphic design business 10 years ago and moving to California, Anderson and her husband focus on photographing birds and other wildlife. Together, they have traveled extensively and have documented nature’s wonders throughout the country and the world. Her photos have been recognized by groups like The Nature Conservancy, National Audubon and National Geographic. Using her photos, she has co-authored four books, including a guide to common birds of northwestern California.

Media Contact:
Troy Swauger, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8932