Visit from the North!

Taken in Ontario

Taken in Ontario 2014

Version français plus bas!

It had been a thrill in the summer  of 2010, our last summer in Nunavut to see so many snowy owls.  It was truly a gift from heaven. They were literally everywhere. We saw many females on their nest and males standing guard close by. Later on in the summer, we were lucky to spot some of the juveniles. And then we moved South.

Taken in Arviat Nunavut

Taken in Arviat Nunavut 2010

Well, it appears we weren’t the only ones that moved. Since that fall, there has been a rare surge of snowy owls in the South. This year there has been an unprecedented amount of sighting of these magnificent birds. I always wonder how many of those are birds we had seen and photographed up North.

Taken in Ontario 2014

Taken in Ontario 2014

I have to say though that this weekend I had a very unpleasant encounter by the bird’s adopted home in rural Ontario. Two other photographers arrived near the site at the same time  my two nieces,  sister-in-law and I got there. One of the photographer immediately started to complain that we were two many, it would disturb the bird… He was really rude, and somehow, I did not believe that he was concerned about the owl.  Shortly after, his buddy, much nicer, explained that they were baiting and asked if we had issues with that. Oh well!

What am I supposed to say? Yes, I have, only an idiot would bait a wild animal in order to get the shot. Don’t give me any of the ‘BS’ about the bird being hungry. I understand that it is a great temptation to bait in order to get that phenomenal shot of the birds flying directly at you. While it gives you great opportunities for photos, it creates a dependency. The birds or any other animals, learn to associate humans and food. They learn to approach people, let down their guards and often end up dead. Baiting  never does the bird or animal any good.

Up North, I was very happy to see many bears come close to town and be able to photograph them. Many times though, I lost good shots because the by-law or wildlife officers came by to scare off the bears.  Of course, I was frustrated each time, all I could think of was the lost opportunity until Joe Savikataaq explained how allowing the bears close to town could only end up in a tragedy. I knew he was right. When a bear looses it’s natural fear of humans, there is danger for everyone, including the bear. Same goes for a snowy owl, which though not as dangerous as a bear could do some harm to children or kill small pets.

Yes, I do have issues with baiting. While still North, Nadine and I went by truck close to the shore to photograph a bear. We parked on some rocks overlooking from a safe distance the bay. To our surprise though the bear rather than staying on the shore, came directly at us, two women in a truck with two cameras but no protection! He came so close, we were scared. We could not believe how he came to sniff us out like that. Only after he left and we moved away, we notice that someone had put some seal meat there.  Bears had been baited the previous night (we spoke to the guy who did it) and we could easily have been his next meal. Many bears though end up dead each year because they come too close to town looking for food since they have learned that some people like to feed wild animals….

I truly enjoy photographing wildlife. I may not have all the greatest shots, but those I have have been taken at the peril of my own life not that of the animal or bird I photograph.

Let us respect the nature we love to photograph.


Désagréable rencontre!

En fin de semaine, alors que je me pointais pour aller montrer un harfang des neiges à mes nièces, j’ai rencontré un monsieur très rude. Peu de temps après la première désagréable minute, son copain a expliqué qu’ils attiraient le harfang avec des souris et me demandais si cela me/nous dérangeait. En anglais on dirait: “Loaded question?”  Qu’est ce qui me dérange: le fait que le monsieur soit si désagréable ou qu’il nourrisse un oiseau sauvage? Etait-il méchant parce qu’il se sentait coupable et ne voulait pas être vu, ou parce qu’il ne voulait pas que je profite du fait qu’il ferait venir l’oiseau vers lui avec l’aide de jolies petites souris blanches?  N’importe!

Bien que ces paroles étaient vraiment pas gentilles, ce n’est pas moi qui a été le plus blessée par cette rencontre mais bien le pauvre  harfang. Contrairement à moi, je doute que l’oiseau puisse raisonné que cette personne ne sait pas ce qu’elle fait et qu’il est alors mieux de s’en tenir loin. Probablement à l’inverse, inconscient du danger, le harfang va s’approcher pour aller chercher la souris. (Il l’a fait, nous en sommes témoins.) Cet oiseau apprendra à associer les humains avec la bouffe. Lorsque ce méchant monsieur (et ses semblables) aura pris toutes les photos qu’il veut et retourne à sa quiétude en ville, l’oiseau cherchera sa nourriture auprès d’autres humains. Il s’aventurera plus près des fermes. Il s’attaquera peut-être au petit chien ou chat du voisin, ou peut-être tentera-t’il même de voler une gâterie dans les mains d’un jeune enfant. Qu’importe le scénario, les risques sont grands que cet oiseau ira où il ne devrait pas aller, et cela finira mal pour lui.

Qu’elle sorte de photographe se sert d’appâts pour attirer un animal ou un oiseau aux seuls fins de prendre de meilleurs photos. Un paresseux? Un impatient? Je ne peux évidement pas généraliser mais celui que j’ai rencontré l’autre jour était clairement impatient, paresseux et très irrespectueux envers l’oiseau mais aussi envers les autres personnes présentent.

Il aura certainement de meilleurs photos que moi, car il a eu le harfang qui vole directement vers lui, et je peux vous assurer de très près. Malgré cela, je peux vous dire honnêtement que mes nièces, ma belle-soeur et moi sommes très fières de nos photos.

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  1. Lucille February 3, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

    Quelle beauté!!!

  2. patricia February 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    Hi Nadine and Lynn.
    I can’t so much agree with you (I hope my english is good). I have hard time first with agressivity and even more with selfish and stupidity (yes, I am sorry to use so much hard word). I discover bear in 2005, me the French girl grow up in city. I learn to accept the bear visit, I watch the neibourn telling the bear to going back home. I watch my friends bring back home birds feeder and hiding all kind of food. And all this kind of attitude let me admire bear behind a window or when the bear was ok to show him selft going throught the yard, I know I was lucky to see them, I saw wild bear in Northern BC, such as bold eagles. I always think humain are more stupid than animal (myself includ), but I learn (so little) to understand that we are the first reason for the death of our lovely wild animals and at short period our life. If we don’t take care about wild life we destroyd first a life and second a circle. A circle of life: our life.
    Thank you for your post and to explain us about it.