Mobile phones are both a blessing and a curse: useful for staying in touch yet they are highly addictive devices which lead to stress and an inexplicable abandonment of senses.
Just this morning I watched a fellow walking along a path carrying his toddler in one arm while staring into his phone in the other hand. Despite the potential of receiving heavy fines or worse, causing traffic accidents, automobile drivers continue to use their phones recklessly. I even see people on hiking trails chatting away on phones. Do you remember when you went outdoors to experience mindfulness?
As any wildlife photographer might tell you – put down your cell phone and engage with your surroundings. And, although my wildlife adventures have taken me to the Brazilian Pantanal, the Peruvian Andes, Patagonia, Ethiopia, Alaska and to various ‘exotic’ Canadian sites you don’t have to go far to find amazing species.
Wildlife is all around us. All we have to do is slow down and open our eyes.
As many know I have been spending a lot of time with bald eagles along the Nith River (check out my gallery) but, due to the Covid 19 restrictions, I have also been spending more time at home and less time in cafes. This summer I have frequently seen a red fox in the woods directly behind my building. It likes to sleep in the afternoon sun but I have also seen it on the hunt while I am enjoying my morning coffee. I have been keeping my camera close by on the off chance it appears again. This is an image taken during a thunderstorm which accounts for the amazing deep colours.
Besides a family of deer, which turn up and rob the bird feeders my well intentioned neighbours keep replenishing, and the aforementioned fox, for the first time in a decade I heard the unmistakable sounds of Merlins this spring. These raptors are slightly larger than American Kestrels and like Kestrels they are also members of the falcon family. Most mornings I have been able to snap images of them in a variety of activities – again, while enjoying my coffee. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!
Merlins usually hunt small birds catching them in flight. The male would often land on a bare branch with a sparrow he had caught then proceed to pluck its feathers. The female occasionally would swoop down, perch next to the male and then he would give her the sparrow to take to the nest. Here she is about to receive the prey.
More recently I have seen – and heard – the young ones flying about the woods chasing the adults. The nest which is in one of the tallest spruce trees in the area has been abandoned now I believe.
Wildlife photography is a game of patience. Often I have sat down on a river bank waiting for bald eagles to appear and been rewarded by spotting other wildlife. Indeed, any time spent outdoors seems to yield precious images. This coyote trotted up a hillside path earlier this year and I was fortunate to capture a few images.
A pair of American Mink sometimes appear along the banks of the Nith River. These are another elusive creature but they must eat and drink. This one ventured into the open a couple of times while I sat on the riverbank snapping away. One evening I watched it fishing.
I know I am repeating myself but……get out and spend time with nature!
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