Wildlife at Your Doorstep

If you are like most people who crave the outdoors in the summer, you are probably indoors during this time of year and counting down the days till the snow melts away and flowers start to bloom. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE summer but the winter season offers many great opportunities if you just plan ahead and are well prepared.

One thing I love to do in the snowy season is pack up my camera and search out wildlife. You may be asking yourself “Is there much wildlife around in the winter”, well the short answer to that is simply “YES”. Although some of the larger Canadian mammals seek shelter and hibernate for the cooler months, many species are out searching for food during day light hours and are quite easy to spot because there are no leaves on the trees and fresh tracks can be found throughout the snow.

During one of my afternoon outings I noticed some fresh rabbit tracks. I quietly followed the tracks and behold, there was the rabbit off in the distance at the edge of an open field. As I sat and watched him for roughly 5 minutes I was greeted by another animal. On the other side of the field was an alpha male coyote, who was of course watching the same rabbit as I, but he had other intentions for this rabbit other than taking photos of him. Although I was a far distance away from the coyote, I was able to get some great portraits of him with my 300mm telephoto lens. For all you rabbit lovers, the rabbit got away and I was able to get some great photos of this magical moment.

Coyote searching for meal on Salt Marsh Trail.

If you are lucky and you live near the coast then you should take the next chance you get and head out to enjoy the ocean scenery for the last couple months of winter. Of course there is no shortage of coastline here in Nova Scotia, Canada and I know first hand how many wildlife opportunities present themselves this time of year. We all know that many birds fly south to warmer destinations during this time of year, much like we do when we are feeling the “Winter Blues”, but many actually come and stay for the cool weather. Some of the seabirds that can be found along the coastline of Nova Scotia during the winter are Dovekies, Mergansers, Surf Scoters and King Eiders to name a few. Many of these birds are visually striking with their winter coats and make for some great photo opportunities. Because the winter light is not nearly as harsh as is the case when shooting during the summer months, photos tend to come out clearer and better exposed even for photographers just starting out and getting familiarized with the settings and capabilities of their cameras.

Winter provides invigorating light to work with.

Soft winter light provides the perfect opportunity for sunsets. Try to include foreground interest such as this tree and include reflections in the frozen ice if at all possible to make your photos pop and WOW your friends with your new photo skills.

Use natural surroundings to create better compositions.

So next time you find yourself clicking endlessly through the channels, do yourself a favor and pack up your camera gear, dress in your warmest clothes and heat up your favorite hot drink and get outside to capture some of the nature in your neighborhood that will only be here for the last half of our Canadian winter.