Nature Photography in the Pandemic

It seems like getting out to wild spaces would be one of the safest activities in these times, but alas, I have not been out as much as I would like. Some of my favorite spaces are overrun right now with folks who feel like wild spaces are their own personal off-leash dog runs and masking up is unnecessary.

Last week, I was minding my own business taking pictures of a muskrat and this woman came into the space, wearing camo, but no mask. The hilarious part of this was she had this incredibly bright white hair that made her look like a partially hidden light bulb. I’m not sure what she thought the camo would do. Anyway, she got within about ten feet of me, so I pulled my mask up because I had to walk past her to get back to the path. She never attempted to put a mask on or even turn in a different direction. I said, “Good morning,” and she just stared.

The few times I have been to my favorite wetlands space, this has been the case. I don’t wear my mask at all times because I wear glasses and it’s just easier if I don’t have to continually adjust it to keep the glasses from fogging. I pull it up whenever I see people coming. While I have seen some people do the same, for the most part, they do not.

I hope as it gets colder, the people will thin out and I’ll have some space to safely wander. I’m sure the wildlife will appreciate the lack of off-leash dogs as well. If you’re going out, no matter where you’re going out, bring your mask, and wear it when needed. I love dogs, but unless the space is for dogs, leave your dogs at home, or at least keep them leashed (and pick up their shit!).

Muskrat swimming
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Defund Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism

The KDWPT recently authorized the use of artificial light and thermal imagining equipment to hunt coyotes at night. Yes, that’s right; they are going to do everything they can to wipe them out. There is no scientific evidence behind this, but there is plenty of ignorance and bloodlust. Looking at the minutes from the meeting, it is shameful how they spun this without offering any scholarly evidence to support it. I guess in the age of Trump, I should not be surprised by this kind of dishonesty. Not only did they admit they have no clue what the Kansas coyote population is, it takes a special kind of asshole to say, “…this did generate a certain amount of animal rights responses, most of those were why kill the coyote, driving into extinction and the general anti-consumption these groups provide. If commissioners get an email and it sounds like it is not from a Kansas resident, google it and it will show where they posted before where these people are into animal rights. Legitimate stakeholders who have contacted me, I only had one negative response…” (Lauber, 2020). I am a legitimate stakeholder and a Kansan who is not in favor of this, and I am not alone.

Coyote
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It’s Been a While

It certainly has been a while since an update. While I have not been able to get to the wetlands as often as I would like, when I have gone, it has been considerably quieter than usual. I meet others walking there who have had the same experience and wonder, “Where are all the birds? Where are all the mammals?” There are likely several reasons–the large number of off-leash dogs, noise from the SLT, more people using it for running and biking, and of course, climate change. I like going when the weather is bad so I can have it to myself for the most part. That’s how I got to see this amazing mink.

Mink standing on log.
Mink standing on beaver dam, looking west
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Strange Summer

We are coming off a terrible heatwave in my part of the state. Interestingly, when it started last week, the oriole adults and fledglings just disappeared. We still have plenty of catbirds coming to the jelly feeders, but I have not seen an oriole in over a week. There have also been significantly fewer ruby-throated hummingbirds visiting this year.

Orchard oriole and Baltimore oriole.
Baltimore oriole fledgling and parent.
Baltimore oriole fledgling and parent.
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