Rare bird pics put Sunderland snapper Michael in the frame for international award

A talented Sunderland photographer is in the running for a prestigious international wildlife prize.

Sunday, 7th March 2021, 12:00 am

Two of Michael Oliver’s pictures have been shortlisted in the worldwide Bird Photographer of the Year competition.

Michael, 60, has been a keen amateur photographer for almost 40 years, and has had time to devote himself to his hobby since retiring as boss of Oliver’s Dental Studio in Durham Road three years ago.

He learned this week that two shots of rare Ivory Gulls he had taken on a trip to the Arctic Circle with wife Liz had caught the eyes of the judges.

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Michael has been taking pictures for almost 40 years

"I got my first camera when Liz bought me one as a 21st birthday present and have probably got more into it as digital photography has come along,” he said.

"I used to get involved in the photographic side at the dental studio – taking pictures for patient instruction and education.

"Since I retired, I have had a lot more time for it. Wildlife photography is my main passion but I also do landscape – I could see there was going to be a good sunrise this morning so I was up before dawn and down at Marsden Grotto to catch the sun coming up.”

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Two of Michael's pictures have made the shortlist

The Bird Photographer of the Year is Michael’s first attempt at entering his pictures for awards: "Some friends on holiday this year were into photography and they said I should try,” he said.

"The first one that came round was the Bird Photographer.”

Michael, who posts on Facebook and Instagram as @snappermick, submitted four pictures in total – the two that have made the shortlist, as well as one of a puffin in its burrow and a sparrowhawk shot in his own garden.

The Ivory Gull shots required no small amount of dedication: “We were out in a ribbed boat at one o’clock in the morning – it is light 24 hours day up there in the winter,” said Michael.

Michael Oliver

"The ice floe off the glacier is brilliant blue when it meets the sea and the light was just amazing.

"Whether the pictures go on to win anything is secondary, really – it is just an honour to have got this far.”

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