PRESS RELEASE: ORK announces the winners of the annual photography contest

Professional photographer Parker Stewart helped choose winners

Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) has chosen the best photographs from across the 5,500 square mile watershed submitted for the annual photography contest. Judges sorted through images that highlighted what makes the Ogeechee and Canoochee Rivers, and the surrounding areas, ecologically and aesthetically remarkable. This year, guest judge and photographer Parker Stewart led the selection process.

Stewart is based in Savannah, Georgia, and is currently focusing his time photographing the coast of Georgia and the river basins that flow in the region. “I was so excited to be asked to judge the Ogeechee Riverkeeper’s annual photography contest,” Stewart said. “The Ogeechee is such a beautiful and diverse expanse. There’s nothing better than exploring and photographing the winding black water rivers which flow out towards the most pristine barrier islands on the east coast.”

The 2021 winners are: 

Black and White –  Winner: Scarboro Landing, Janet Strozzo Anderson; Runner-up: River Rain, William Harrell
Funny Wildlife – Winner: Tree Climber, Wesley Hendley; Runner-up: Cormorant, Janet Strozzo Anderson
Landscape – Winner: Kings Ferry Landing, Ted Grey;  Runner-up: White Chimney Creek, Claude Howard
Plant life – Winner: Tree, Near Morgans Bridge, James Maddox; Runner-up: Stump, Kathleen Kuehn
Portrait – Winner: New Friends, Montana Tohm
Wildlife – Winner: Barred Owl, William Harrell; Runner-up: Pileated Woodpecker, Wesley Hendley
Honorable Mentions – Heart Tree, Tamara Shurling (Plant Life); Kayak Trail, Brett Tatom (Landscape); Free, Gretchen McLeod (Landscape); Big Daddy, Merritt Garrett (Funny Wildlife)

Winners receive a one year ORK household membership and official ORK swag. All winners, runners-up, and honorable mentions can be viewed here or via the viewer below.

2021 Annual Photography Contest

About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. The Canoochee River is about 108 miles long and the Ogeechee River itself is approximately 245 miles long. The Ogeechee River system drains more than 5,500 square miles across 22 counties in Georgia. More at


Members Only: Birding Walk with Ogeechee Audubon

This event is available only to current members of Ogeechee Riverkeeper.

Register here. Membership status will be verified. 

This event will be limited to 15 participants. Please alert ORK if you register but need to cancel so your spot can be offered to another birder.

Ogeechee Audubon’s birding expert & Ogeechee Riverkeeper’s Damon Mullis will co-lead a beginning birding walk on Saturday, August 28, 8-10 a.m. at the Chatham County Wetlands Preserve, on the banks of the Ogeechee River.

Guests will learn to identify wading birds, raptors, woodpeckers, other late summer resident birds.

Trip Rigor: Easy, with paved path and varied terrain. Estimated walking distance 2 miles. ADA accessible; no public restrooms on site. Loaner binoculars will be available.

Not a member? Become one now and get access to this and more members-only events.

*All participants will be required to adhere to all COVID-19 mandates and protocols in effect at the time of the event.

Fauna: Passerina ciris

Painted Bunting by Dan Pancamo

Passerina ciris

The brightly colored bird is a member of the cardinal family and lives in the southeast and south-central United States, including coastal Georgia. Females and immature males are a parrot green color. At about two years old, the male’s feathers turn multiple tones of red, indigo, yellow, and more.

Color engraving by R. Havell, after drawing by John J. Audubon – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington

They breed in maritime hammocks, scrubland, briar patches, woodland edges and swampy thickets. The females typically lay 3-4 eggs, twice a year. The fledglings take just a couple of weeks to leave the nest after hatching. The population is estimated at about 4.5 million, but that number is decreasing.

Painted Bunting (Female) by Dan Pancamo

The painted bunting was originally described by Carl Linnaeus in his eighteenth-century work Systema Naturae. The Swedish naturalist did a taxonomy of plants in 1753 and followed up with animals in 1758 and 1759.

Cover of Systema Naturae, 10th edition

Painted buntings are territorial and can be seen throughout the Ogeechee River watershed and nearby areas like Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge.

Listen to the call of the Painted bunting.