During a day of hiking and photography on the tundra in Barrow, Alaska, Georges McNeil and a group of birders happened upon this ruff. When the day got colder and rainy, the group decided to pack it in, settling for some “bad photos” of the bird before they left. The next day, however, the last one of the trip, McNeil and the group returned to the place where they had spotted the ruff. It was still there. Although the bird kept its distance, McNeil stayed patient. The lighting was better this time and the group eventually managed a number of great shots. “What a lucky find and a great way to end our trip,” McNeil says. “It was a life bird for me, and to see a breeding male was incredible! That is one of the wonders of Barrow: You never know what you will run across.”
This image was a Top 100 photo from the 2013 Audubon Magazine Photography Awards. To see all of the photos, click here.