Behind the Lens

By Darren Murphy

Whenever I’ve posted photos online, either in my Wildpix group, or the Knowlton Facebook page, the one question that I’m always asked is “Where did you take this shot, or where did you find this animal/bird?” I’ve mentioned before the importance of networking: it’s quite simple and can offer all kinds of location tips. For example, I’m originally from Verdun (a suburb of Montreal). Just down the street is the Saint Lawrence River and only ten minutes away is the Lasalle Rapids. Over the years the city of Lasalle and Montreal have invested millions of dollars turning this area into a beautiful waterfront park with stunning river views of Heron Island and the rapids surrounding the park. It also happens to be a government protected wildlife refuge. It is the second largest Heron rookery in Quebec. I belong to a Facebook group called “From Verdun and Proud of it”. Luckily, I stumbled across a fellow member who is an avid photographer and spends quite a bit of time exploring this area. Recently he did a video of the park focusing on the wildlife. It was a short film that included Blue Herons, Green Herons, Black Crowned Night Herons, various songbirds, turtles, rabbits and an Eastern Screech Owl. Two weeks ago, I was in the area and made it a point to stop by hoping to get some pics of the Night Heron and Screech Owl. After an hour I had some Great Blue Heron pics and some songbirds as well. Both the Black Crowned Night Heron and Screech Owl eluded me but it’s a big park and I probably walked right by them as they are camouflage experts.
The reason I’m relating this story is I never would have known this wildlife was here if it wasn’t for the Facebook page I mentioned. Years ago, when I first got into nature photography, I was introduced to Birding Quebec. Here both wildlife photographers and birders shared valuable information on the sighting and location of birds. It was like a small community who were happy to share their info and it enabled me to find certain bird species I never thought I’d find on my own. As time progressed, the birders and photographers seemed to grow a dislike for one another. The story being the birders always believed in staying a respectable distance from the subject whereas the photographers would crash the field or forest and try to get as close as possible for a shot. I was in Casselman Ontario where a fight broke out between a photographer and birder when the guy trying to get a picture got too close and scared the owl away. Unfortunately, the information sharing stopped and the site put out a statement saying locations would no longer be shared as the bad blood between the two groups was intensifying. Needless to say, this was a major blow and made it considerably harder to locate certain species of birds. There are still some sites that share info, I usually go online and check as many birding groups I can hoping to get some intel. Personally, whenever I find an owl or any bird of interest, I share the information in my posts or in my Wildpix Facebook page. Nothing pleases me more than receiving an e-mail saying a follower checked out the location I mentioned and captured some pics of their own.
Several people from Lac Brome have travelled to Saint Hubert airport from Lac Brome and found the Snowy owls I’ve posted about. There’s nothing more exciting for a nature photographer than getting that elusive picture they’ve often dreamed about.
As we enter autumn, many of the birds that visited our properties during the summer months have left for the winter months. The good news is many have stayed and other species that return in the colder weather will be here shortly. Last winter we were delighted to have swarms of Grosbeaks arrive at our feeders. Both Evening and Pine Grosbeaks arrived by the dozens and stayed a good part of the winter sharing the seeds with Blue Jays, Tufted Titmouses and Cardinals. During the cold winter months birds are even more dependent on what we offer them. Try and keep your feeders full during this time, you may be surprised at who shows up for a visit.

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