Some musings as we welcome winter

Cori Brown
Contact ReporterThe Backyard Naturalist

My thoughts have been rambling the last few days as the cold weather starts to move in.

Weekly outings with my birding buddy Sharon require bundling up now to stay warm. By the time we get out the door, I feel loaded down with a jacket, hat, gloves, scarf, and tissues in multiple pockets. Add to this binoculars and a camera wrapped around me and I’ve probably added 10 pounds to my weight (and that doesn’t include all the snacks and lunch)!

While our better halves hang out at home snug as cute bugs in rugs, we stay committed to our cause to enjoy nature no matter what the weather.

We always meet some great like-minded people when we’re out on our adventures. One such encounter involved a fellow nature photographer named Bill Bramble.

We were at Hashawha that day wandering around the trail along the lake when we met up with him. We talked for a while and took photographs of frogs, turtles, and butterflies (it was still pleasantly warm) among other things. Somehow we got around to chatting about Facebook.

We all post to Facebook to share our love of nature with friends and family.

It was obvious to me that Bill was serious about his photography work. He related how he spent many, many hours befriending a fox family so that they would feel comfortable around him as he documented their day to day routines.

He talked about hanging out with owls, another instance where patience and trust is a must if you want to achieve great captures of their lives.

What he said next was surprising. His best work is not on Facebook. He doesn’t want his pictures co-opted by other Facebook users, whether well intentioned or not. Others with less than honorable intentions can easily steal his images and call them their own.

It is true that once you put your photos out in the public domain, they are fair game for others to abscond with. This is nothing new, but what a sad commentary on the character of those who do such things, not to mention the loss for the rest of us who would enjoy seeing the results of his hard earned efforts.

Nature photographers are artists and proud of their work. How simple it would be to just ask for permission to share their photos and give them credit, even if you are friends and family. It then becomes their decision, as it should be, to determine how, when, and what fees may apply to share their work. Any artist deserves nothing less and it’s the right thing to do.

Speaking of the right thing to do, lots of animals are on the move now, whether looking for food, seeking a warm place to hunker down, or finding a mate. I see evidence of them everywhere but not for the reason you think. In the last few weeks, the list of road kill victims I’ve seen in the vicinity of my neighborhood includes raccoons, squirrels, opossums, foxes, deer and snapping turtles.

I imagine the list will grow as the days get shorter. I would be the first to admit that some collisions with animals are inevitable, especially if you find yourself at risk of injury. However, I also think that many such instances are avoidable if folks would just slow down.

In just two days, a large snapping turtle and a doe lost their lives along our property frontage. Though snapping turtles are not my favorite animals, it’s hard to believe that this particular fatality could not be prevented.

Life is too short to put yourself, the animals, and possibly other drivers at risk for the sake of getting somewhere a minute or two sooner.

Please slow down, especially at night, for your own safety and those of the animals. We all want to live for another day, including our animal neighbors.

On a lighter note, I am getting ready to put our small pond to bed for the winter. I don’t have any experience with such things, so I hope I get it right for the sake of the three goldfish and two frogs that now live in it.

I watched the fish grow over the last several months and take on their own personalities. They proved to be a great source of entertainment and comfort while I recuperated from surgery (it sounds crazy but they were quite mesmerizing to watch). I expect the frogs will bury themselves in the bottom and hibernate for the winter.

Soon I will shut down the waterfall and install a small heater to keep the pond open enough for everyone to survive. Hopefully the winter will be mild and I will continue to see the fish once in a while.

Just in case it isn’t, I welcome advice from you, my readers, on increasing my chances of success of seeing my fish and frog buddies again come spring.

In the meantime, stay warm and bundle up as winter comes our way.

sports@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7896

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