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Beautiful Wildlife Photos: 21 Winners Of GDT Nature Photographer Of The Year

by Tunae

This perfect formation of black skimmer birds, a stoic Alpine ibex, a surfing penguin and gorgeous images of landscapes and woodlands are among the winning photos of this year’s GDT Nature Photographer of the Year.

The winners were selected from among more than 8,000 entries across seven categories that included Birds, Mammals, Other Animals, Plants & Fungi, Landscapes and Nature’s Studio.

The German Society for Nature Photography (GDT) organizing the photo contest is a non-profit founded in 1971 that “demands and supports nature photography that embraces authenticity, true conservation and artistic quality.”

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The GDT Nature Photographer of the Year contest is open to members of the society, while the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is open to all photographers based in Europe.

Photographer Dieter Damschen won the Special Category All things flow—Germany’s river landscapes with his photograph “Winter flood in a riparian forest,” for which he also secured overall victory.

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See all the winning photos in each category here.

Overall Winner

The inundated trees in the floodplain hardwood forest of the Mittel Elbe during a winter flood.

“Winter is my favorite time of year and one of my favoured motifs is the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Elbe River Landscape,” Dieter explains. “Although I claim to know this location very well and sometimes get the feeling that I have seen and photographed everything here many times, I am regularly surprised by how different a supposedly familiar place can appear.”

After several years with extremely low water levels, a long-awaited winter flood inundated the old oak trees in January, 2024. The resulting contrasting lines emphasize the time-worn structures of the mighty trees, creating the special graphic effect of this fleeting moment.

Birds

Gentoos are the fastest swimmers among penguins and agile enough to surf breaking waves.

Whooper swans, one on a landing trajectory, during a snowstorm on a frozen lake in Hokkaido, Japan.

A parent prepares a near-final visit to the nest to feed these hungry kestrels ready to fledge.

Mammals

Uganda Humpback whales spend the summer months in their Antarctic feeding grounds hunting energy-rich krill to build up sufficient blubber reserves for the long migration to their winter breeding grounds in the tropics. Using a technique known as bubble netting, several whales encircle a swarm of krill, crowding the swarm further by releasing a curtain of air bubbles, and then close in to feed effortlessly.

Alpine ibex are perfectly adapted to the inhospitable conditions at high elevations and can survive severe winter storms.

The Great Migration in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is one of the largest animal migrations on the planet. These wildebeest are crossing the Mara River, their solid mass during a pause in their tidal movement conveys a sense of oppressive confinement.

The red deer stag captured in motion here was fast on the train of a potential mate.

“But cheetahs don’t kill zebras,” Monika Morlak’s astounded guide proclaimed in Madikwe, South Africa. But this cheetah with three adolescents in tow managed to do just that.

A thread-winged antlion resting at night in a Namibian camp.

The diamondback rattlesnake extends its tongue to detect odors. Kai Kolodziej was seeking—successfully, as it turns out—to make that behavior visible.

The small river Groote Aa flows past the outskirts of Odermatt’s village in the Netherlands. It offers a perfect summer habitat for arrowhead plants.

A drooping Pasque flower opens on a frosty morning.

A Bonnet sprouting pin mold, which acts as a parasite on this particular kind of fungi.

Felix Wesch adores these woods, and found a festival of color during a rare mornings in autumn with both fog and sunshine.

This photograph was taken in Marble Castle, Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park, Norway. The scene was lit with flashes from several perspectives.

More painting than photo, a tree is shaped by the wind in the grey dunes of the German barrier island Baltrum.

In the warm glow of the morning sun in the Wadden Sea, a pair of wagtails cavorts through the air.

In ICM photography — intentional camera movement — a camera is moved during the exposure for a creative or artistic effect. Here, a dew-covered spider web is backlit by morning light.

Sand-bubbler crabs create a striking formation on a beach in Malaysia as they sift through sand searching for food. Discarded grains are rolled into pellets to ensure the same sand isn’t sifted twice.

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