Press Center

Capturing the moment at Seward Park Audubon Center

If there’s one thing Heather Roskelley has learned about bird photography, it’s that the perfect moment usually comes when you least expect it. For the Tahoma Audubon member, that moment finally came after waiting four days last winter for the elusive Varied Thrush to show up in the Washington Park Arboretum’s mountain ash. “It had been a frustrating few days, because the birds were either too high up in the branches or not there at all,” says Roskelley, who has been an amateur bird-photographer for eight years. “I just remember it was 32 degrees out that day, one of the coldest of the winter of 2017, and here it was my fourth day with no luck. Just when I was beginning to think I wouldn’t get the shot at all, I saw it out of the corner of my eye: a thrush appeared right at eye-level, with interesting lighting, on these beautiful, colorful berries. That’s when I knew that my patience and persistence paid off.”

Roskelley was named the Amateur Winner of the 2017 Audubon Photography Awards, which included an exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and publication in the Summer 2017 issue of Audubon. More than 5,500 entrants from 49 states and eight Canadian provinces submitted photographs in three categories: professional, amateur, and youth. “It’s particularly meaningful to me that my winning picture was taken in the Pacific Northwest, in a place I love, because the Arboretum in my opinion is one of the jewels of Seattle, and I feel my picture is truly emblematic of our area’s beauty,” says Roskelley, who developed a love of the outdoors from her late father Fenton Roskelley, former longtime outdoors writer for the Spokane Daily Chronicle (who, his obituary notes, was the newspaper’s “only employee to have a company car equipped with a boat hitch”). “I’ve enjoyed attending the traveling exhibits and meeting Audubon members from other chapters, and I’ve been impressed with Audubon Washington’s conservation efforts.”

In addition to the exhibit, Seward Park Audubon Center was also selected by awards sponsor Canon as a location for its first-ever bird-watching event. The May 19 event included a guided nature and wildlife-viewing walk, a live “birds in flight” demonstration by local falconer John Prucich, and the chance to test out—and receive individual instruction on—high-end cameras, binoculars, and printing equipment. “It was truly a collaborative effort between national and local Audubon staff along with representatives from Canon, Kenmore Camera and Moab Paper,” says Marina Pita, community programs manager and educator at the Seward Park Audubon Center. The potential popularity of the event—which ended up attracting more than 100 participants—dawned on her when the Fedex shipment arrive. “Our driver said, ‘hey, I know I have made deliveries to you before, but never like this,’ as he kept pulling out suitcase after suitcase of Canon equipment. Canon really invested a lot into this event, so we made sure to spread the word and get as many people interested as we could. Bird photography can be so challenging sometimes, so it was rewarding to see participants have such a fantastic experience. Everyone walked away with a big smile on their face, which of course makes us happy too.”


How you can help, right now