Stay Home. Stay Safe. Sigh.

Originally written Jan 9, 2021

These words resound in my head every trip I take when I leave my home. It was even shouted rather rudely to the entire ferry load by a crew member asking us what part of it don't we understand. Of course this crew member wore his mask below his nose as he leaned into the window of a vehicle on the ferry. This action alone had him get more exposure and contact than I ever do on any of my outings.

So I'm only going to talk about this once because it's not my purpose here. I wasn't going to talk about it but it really bothered me. Photography is part of my professional life now and it's also personal where it brings me great peace and calmness that I need in my life for mental health. I work from home and have for almost 30 years. Right now other than my job my home is hell. The stress I deal with daily from being a superintendent of 17 units cannot be explained on here.

So no. Staying home for me is not safe. When I travel, it's never more than a couple of hours away, if that. I do not enter a store, I use the outdoors and clean up after myself, my truck can go over 1000km without needing gas and I never get within 10 feet of anyone let alone 6 feet. Enough on this subject.

Amherst Island is one of my favorite places to visit. Normally it's not too busy and I rarely leave there without at least one subject I am happy with. My coyote shoots have been disappointing lately and I must get some clicks in!

Once I arrived on the ferry I was a bit concerned it would be too busy but I spend most of my time on the west end. This time being no exception. I drive slowly on the island and move aside quickly if there is a car coming and will always be courteous when I'm pulled over to shoot. I, like most photographers I know, am polite and respect private property. Every winter you get the trespassers issues on Amherst Island which can be just nature lovers, tourist and birders. Unfortunately it's getting worse every year and the combination of COVID is making this year much worse. I remember driving the roads and rarely seeing a no trespassing sign. Now they are every where. I just don't understand that behaviour.

I was thrilled with my first catch of the day! Camaraderie among species. Why can't we all get along like this?

I was hoping to catch the shorties I had seen on Christmas day in the same area but had no luck today. I did have some fun trying to catch a few shots of Snow Buntings. If anyone has tried, you get the fun in that. Redpolls and Buntings are both some of the hardest small birds to catch a shot of. They love to move. Thanks to my flight lock on my R5 and some teeny tiny slow steps, I was happy to catch a few.

Snow Buntings having a chit chat!

Another difficult bird to capture a good photo of is one of my favorites, the Rough Legged Hawk. I do have quite a few photos of them but still not quite what I would like to have. Today was still not that day although there are a lot of them on the island, they are very flighty! Amherst has both the Dark Morph and the Light Morph Rough Legged Hawks.

Look at the colours on this guy. I would love to have caught a better shot.

I did enjoy my day over all. I spotted 11 snowy owls but most were quite far away or on poles. One of these days I'd like to get back into owl woods but it's simply too busy for me and I've seen quite a few dogs heading into the trail so finding owls would be futile.

I did see many short Eared Owls in their normal spot but did not stop as there were too many people shooting there. They seemed to be taking care to be safe and keeping distance from each other.

This lovely lady literally few onto this post as I was driving towards it!

At the end of the day, although I was happy he caught great shots of them, a fellow photographer told me he saw 4 foxes literally moments after I arrived on the island. They had been frightened off by the police and ambulance that came across on the ferry after me to help out someone who took a corner too fast on ice and flipped a vehicle. I was literally around the corner from them and did not get to see the foxes. So many missed moments but oh so many good ones!

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