The Winning Photo


“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge has announced the winners of its 29th annual “Ding” Darling Day Amateur Nature Photography Contest. First place went to Doug Meurer of Fort Myers for this portrait titled “Roseate Spoonbill & Reddish Egret.” Contest judge and Refuge Manager Kevin Godsea said, “I love the colorful and playful nature of this photograph, as well as the variety of subject matter and the action it portrays.”

Judges had selected three winners and eight honorable mentions out of 118 entries from 18 states and two countries. All photograph entries were shot at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge complex.

“As this year comes to an end, we start to reflect on what we are thankful for. For us here at ‘Ding,’ nature always seems to be at the top of that list,” said Sierra Hoisington, DDWS development officer and contest coordinator. “This photo contest is a reminder to all of us as to how gentle, constant, and gracious our wildlife and wild spaces are. We acknowledge that the peace and solitude we feel at the refuge is shared by many and has the power to bring us all together.”

The second place photo (right) was from Kathleen Colligan from Bokeelia with her photograph titled “Tri-colored Heron with its Reflection.” “I particularly am drawn to the dark and light contrast in this photo, the composition, the framing of the mangrove branches, and the reflections on the water.,” said Karen Watson, a parttime Sanibel resident and interior designer.

Donald Howe from Savannah, Ga., took third place with this photo (left) of snowy egret drinking water, titled “Blowin’ Bubbles.” “I like the contrast between the dark water and the white feathers of the snowy egret as well as the photograph’s composition,” said judge Susan Beittel, a refuge volunteer who subbed for local photojournalist Kinfay Moroti when he had to cancel that day for medical reasons.

The three winners received cash awards from DDWS – $300 for first place, $225 for second, and $175 for third. Each honorable mention winner, listed below, received a $25 award, which reflects a refund of the contest entry fee. Due to three ties, only eight honorable mentions were chosen after eliminating second entries by the same photographer to break the ties.

The winning photographs and honorable mention award entries will be on display in the Refuge Visitor & Education Center throughout the year, once it reopens.

To view the other top-ranking entries, visit That page also contains information for entering the photo contest in 2022. The deadline for submissions will be Sept. 15, 2022.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here