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Page last updated at 18:09 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Photographer wins acclaimed prize
Mongolian eagle hunters by David Tipling
David's winning shot of the Mongolian eagle hunters with their golden eagles

A wildlife photographer from Norfolk has scooped a prestigious photography award in an American competition.

David Tipling, a professional photographer based in north Norfolk, won the Indigenous Cultures Award presented by Nature's Best Photography.

"For us photographers it's a bit like winning an Oscar, as it is one of a very few ways your work can be recognised," said David.

David's winning shot is of the annual eagle hunting festival in Mongolia.

"The shot was taken during an assignment for a book project titled Birds & People," said David.

"Each year during the first weekend of October, nomads who hunt with golden eagles gather at the eagle hunters festival for two days of competition and celebration," he added.

Western Mongolia

David travelled to western Mongolia to capture images of the hunters. He trekked deep onto the steppe [a region characterised by grassland plain without trees] in the heart of the Altai Mountains and lived in a ger [a traditional Mongolian dwelling] among the hunters.

"Remote and very beautiful, this part of Mongolia still supports a very traditional nomadic way of life," said David.

"The hunters are mainly Kazakhs and hunting with eagles is one of their oldest traditions," he added.

The photo won the Indigenous Cultures Award in the competition and it shows a way life that seems far removed from the comfortable surroundings of Norfolk.

"My winning image shows four hunters arriving from across the steppe on the morning of the festival. All four had travelled nearly 100 miles to attend," said David.

"Their fur coats are made of fox skins caught by their eagles.

"All the hunters without exception were happy to be photographed."

Festival games

David not only witnessed the eagle hunting but all the traditional displays and events that comprise the festival.

Nightjar in flight by David Tipling
David's patience has rewarded him with some remarkable photographs

"The festival games included not only falconry but archery, a horse race that lasted around an hour and went for miles across the steppe and bushkashi - a tug of war on horseback with a goat skin," he said.

"The festival was quite lawless at times and a number of people were knocked over and trampled by horses, adding to the general excitement of the event and really enforcing the feel that I was in a very remote part of Asia.

"Apart from the festival, the friendliness of the people and stunning scenery, my other lasting memory is of the Mongolian roads. You soon realise why travel on horseback is a more sensible option!"


David has previously worked alongside the crew from BBC Springwatch after he built up a relationship with a nightjar.

The elusive bird is hard to photograph in the wild, but David spent three years researching its habits and building up a familiarity with it in order to capture some stunning images.

David's passion and skill as a wildlife photographer has earned him a number of awards and accolades, including the documentary award for the European Nature Photographer of the Year for his work on Emperor Penguins.

His latest prize is another impressive achievement in a competition that is considered to be the American equivalent of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award.

David's winning photo will now be displayed in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, America.

A permanent exhibition of David's work can be viewed at the Photographers' Gallery in Holt.

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