Jen's Creative Photography
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
As most of you know I do photography work to try to educate people on what is going on around them. Most of it is good and then you have something like this. This is terrible. I know there will be some that want to see the photos and some that will not. Some of them I have shot to make an impact. This is real.But I ask you to please at least read through my blog and hear what I have said. What I experienced, and know that not all photos are sad. It is reality. And we must face that. And hope that something can be done to stop this horrible die off from happening like this again. It is sad,sickening and we apparently can not do anything to stop it. At least not yet. MNR are working on the cause which so far is beleived to be a type E botullism strain. A huge job for them. But the tests are lengthy. And are in progress. This is always apparently lying at the bottom of the lake to be awakened once in a while during the fall. Carried by invasive species such as round gobies and zebra muscles etc. Species we ourselves as humans have introduced into our lakes in various ways. The species that are being affected by this die off in Georgian Bay area are diving ducks,loons,gulls and fish. One eats something and something eats that and so on and so forth. The food chain. A terrible thing when something like this goes wrong. A natural die off? I am not of authority to say. All I know is this time 1000's of birds have been affected. And everyone is very alarmed and concerned. Different species of fish,sturgeon which is already an endangered species have been found washed up on the shores. Big catfish,and other big fish that when I saw them were practically all gone from the gulls feasting on them. I know what I saw were all very big probably breeding fish. Oh yes we do loose species every year from natural and unatural happenings. That is a normal occurrance. Mother nature has a way of keeping that balance. But this was so hard to take in. This was a beach full of hundreds and hundreds of dead birds and fish. Amongst them was one lonely dying red necked grebe you will meet here. She was frightened and sick. She lay there unable to move anything except her head. She opened her little eyes only a wee bit when I approached. And I for only a second saw a little glimmer of life twinkeling in those eyes as the sun hit them. And then they were closed again. She was clearly dying a very slow terrible death. I only wished that there was someplace I could of taken her for help. But not enough of those places around. What I am talking about is wildlife rehab centers. At least they could of let her go humanely so she would not have to lay there for hours all alone in pain and suffering,scared and helpless. Her eye almost looked like a tear had formed. I spent time with her. Others tried to feed her rotten apples that had washed up from somewhere. It was very very sad. One woman had tears as she was frantically trying to figure out "why". I later saw her and her husband just sitting on a picnic table on the beach just staring out into the wide open water with all the dead bodies littering the beach around them. And knowing this one tiny life sat suffering. They and I were clearly affected as were many others. Everyone who walked by this grebe stopped and gathered around her. Talked to her and tried to comfort her. It was very moving. I stood myself and just stared into the water and asked why. There are disasters happening every second of every day 24 hours a day seven days a week someplace in this world. Wether it be oil spills,hurricanes,earthquakes etc. Natural or un natural like poaching for example. But they are happening. We just don't always know about it or we hear about it but we are not there so it doesn't affect us directly. But this is our watershed and it does affect us. So much life has been and still will be lost. I watch the birds that migrate every year. I feel sadened to know we won't be seeing as high a number this year when all is said and done with this problem. That we may even see them along our lake front here on Lake Simcoe and possibly other watersheds as well. I know it does happen in other places too. But the worst of it is we are helpless to stop it right now. I only hope that will change. And they will find a way to stop this. Oh yes the yearly die off's will continue to happen. But those are generally not noticed. I hope the die off is over but they think it is not. I also hope that these poor beings will be cleaned up more on a daily basis. They should not be left say over a weekend were hundreds more join them and other lives are eating them passing it on and on. It is a huge job. But I know many people who would help with clean ups including myself if need be. In a sense I am hoping that people will realize what we have on this earth. What we are blessed with and that it does not sustain itself. We must not litter,we must not dump left over bate fish and we have to wash the bottoms of our boats when entering one waterway to another to stop the spread of invasive species. We need to be aware and we need to look after what we have. We can!!! And it is well worth it. Just look around you and you will know what I mean. Sit by the water, in an open field, hear the trees blowing in the winds. The geese as they fly over on a clear crisp night. An owl hooting in a nearby tree or hunting in a field. Baby birds in a nest gapping for food. A robin having a wonderful bath. It's all ours to see and hear. But if we do not look after it. It will be gone forever. Think about that.!
I start with a group of gulls out in the water doing what they do. Alive and seemingly healthy. And I move to a lonely abandoned childs flipper washed up on the beach and then the devastation hits. A dead absolutely beautiful male longtail duck. Lying there motionless. It's beautiful life taken from it on it's migratory journey south. Then I spot a gull flying with something stuck in it's foot. What on earth. I look around. I stand there. I am silent.
Apparently this die off happens frequently, however this year it is much worse. These are some shots of the dead bodies along the beach. What a terrible shame. And along with the dead bodies are the humans garbage. Put them together. Isn't that so so sad. Sickening in fact. We have 2 legs 2 arms and a brain. We are provided with garbage cans everywhere. Pick up your garbage and use those legs. Walk over and dispose of it properly. If no garbage can. Take it home to dispose of it. This is our responsibility,it is a privilege to have these beautiful places to go spend our time. It is our job to keep them clean, not just for ourselves as caring responsible human beings but for our wildlife friends as well. Our children need to be taught the right way. It is their future too.
Along my walk I met all kinds of people who were also very upset. One couple in particular I met when we came upon this dying grebe. They put these rotting apples in front of her to see if she would eat it. And filled a clam shell with fresh water. The bird could not get up nor did it try. It couldn't. It did however try to grab the apple and water. It was clearly hungry. But could not move. It's eyes were closed when we arrived. But when it herd us it opened them just a tiny bit. It looked at us and it was the sadest thing I have ever encountered. It's head kind of bobbing and every now and then it got stronger. It was struggling to survive. It's breathing was already laboured. We were helpless in helping it. The woman was almost in tears. "Why can't we get it help she said". Truth is we do not have enough wildlife rehab centers. Toronto Wildlife Center could of taken her I am sure but are to far away. Another one way up in Huntsville. But we have lost our wildlife rehab in Midland "OSPCA". The one she could have gone to. Not enough funding.I doubt they could of saved her. But they could of at least put her to rest humanely so she didn't have to lay there scared and suffering. How aweful that must be for the poor little things. All these people gathering around her and talking to her. People cared but were totally helpless to do anything. She lay there alone and scared. As darkness set in I for some reason looked back,I saw her moving around a bit over top of the driftwood I built up around her for protection from the winds that blew so strongly. I thought maybe she was actually moving a bit. I was impelled to walk back. But she wasn't. She was more alert and moving her head around more. But not for long. She was tired,and I think very frightened. I had to leave that little bird. I hated to leave her behind. But I am not a trained rehabilitator and I had no place I could take her. And we have been told not to touch these birds also. To keep our pets away. Well there are dog tacks all over that beach and all around those dead birds. Are we not suppose to be the intelligent ones?? It is common sense to me that when you see something dead you keep your pets away from it. Never mind a beach full of hundreds of dead birds and fish. Come on people. Think! People were actually picking the dead birds up and wanted to get a picture of the species affected with no protection. Not good. I just stood by and watched and said not a good idea guys without gloves especially. He said your right,we could get sick. But continued on. Just caring people who wanted to learn more as I do. What species is it affecting etc. Very nice people. But you could clearly see that without picking them up. So why put yourselves at risk. As for our wee grebe. I walked away leaving her alone on a deserted beach now. The sun was going down quickly and it was getting cool. The lake looked so peaceful. But peaceful it wasn't at this time. And I couldn't help but feel very sad and upset for her.
It was a dark night!
It was a dark night!
Monday, October 24, 2011
Beautiful bodies of longtail ducks lay together,males and females together and young ones close by. A young herring gull eating a tainted dead fish,it just goes on and on.
Here the lifeless body of a white winged scoter. The only one of it's kind that I saw myself this day, lay still. It's beauty still beholding to it's past life. A beautiful female longtail with her bill burried deep in the sand. Probably her last effort to fight for her life that failed. And there she still lies. Another one partially burried from blowing sands.A man surrounded by bodies in disbelief in silence.
These beautiful once living birds were scattered all over the beach. Loons,red necked grebes and longtails. As you can see some were eaten by predators thinking they would make a good meal. Probably raccoons at night, maybe gulls,what ever it was would have no way of know the dangers of this meal.How could they!
As I walked the beach I saw dead fish up on the shore as well. Large catfish,sturgeon and other large fish that had died of this botullism that is killing everything. I fear that these immature herring gulls who are feeding on these dead fish will be the next to wash up on shore. These beautiful young birds have no idea that this tasty meal is tainted with death.
As the day draws to an end. The life lost was huge. And it's not over. What magnificent beauty, yet what lies beneath is so devastating to the life within it reach. The footprints of the many people that walked through,around and stood beside these precious lives in horror still embedded in the sand around the 100's of bodies that lay motionless in the sandy beach. That not long ago was full of people having fun and not even thinking about the devastation that lay ahead for the migrating and local birds. But what was worse for me, was the one lonely red necked grebe that sat there dying. That will forever be in my heart.