A sunbathing snake snapped by Manhattan resident Jacob Dalen snatched top honors in the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s 2019 Preserve the Moment photo contest.
After more than 2,500 online votes were tallied, Dalen’s shot, taken at Sauk Trail Reservoir in Frankfort, was the big winner, netting the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student a $500 gift card.
Dalen said he was out taking photos when he almost stepped on the garter snake as it warmed itself on the preserve’s gravel trail.
Dalen said he will use his winnings to update his photography gear “ ... so that I can continue to photograph the nature around me.”
Finishing in second place was Minooka resident Eileen Capodice's photo of a great blue heron with a northern water snake clutched in its beak that was taken at Rock Run Rookery Preserve in Joliet.
Landing in third was a photo of a red-tailed hawk poised to pounce on prey that was taken by taken by Robert Schwaan of Lemont at Veterans Woods in Romeoville.
More than 800 photo submissions were whittled down to nine monthly finalists during the contest time period of April-December.
In January 2020, the three overall winners were chosen via public voting on the Forest Preserve’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/WillCoForests.
The six remaining finalist photos were: a sunset photo, Michelle Wendling of Joliet; a snail on the trail, Mark Hanna of Romeoville; a deer in the woods, Frank Rink of Shorewood; a great blue heron landing on water, Mark Rupsis of Joliet; a red milkweed beetle, Greg Johnson of Bolingbrook; and a spring landscape, Kevin Kuchler of Joliet.
Details on the 2020 Preserve the Moment photo contest will be announced later this year at ReconnectWithNature.org.