My COVID 19 Quarantine Survival Story

With the emergence of the COVID 19 virus and the “Stay at Home Order”, like many people, I temporarily panicked. How long would the virus be an issue, two weeks, a month? I could deal that.  But a year or more, I had no concept how I would emotionally and financially survive. Almost all my in-person speaking in engagements and photo workshops scheduled for the spring and summer had to be cancelled.  Even my fall programs are in question.  

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Cardinal in spring
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Carolina Wren photographed in local park attracted by feeder.















But I could not change conditions and was not financially destitute like many people, so I started to look for ways to turn this situation into a positive opportunity.  I had plenty work to do on the computer—organizing and editing images, updating presentations, prepare advertising, producing a newsletter, etc. But I needed to be outside photographing at least part of the time. With no backyard where I could photograph, I decided to look for photo opportunities in my neighborhood. I checked out a number of trails and parks searching for non-crowded places with urban wildlife. Although some areas had limited possibilities, I did discover two gems.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker landing on tree trunk.
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Male Red-Bellied Woodpecker spotted when I heard it.


Initial Project:

At one park there was an osprey nest where I spent some time and I got the image above. Another park, five minutes from home, offered a number of opportunities to photograph squirrels, groundhogs, ospreys and an assortment of other birds.  I created a feeder station in an open field near a line of shrubs.  I baited the scene with birdseed, peanuts, suet and peanut butter. I added small evergreen branches and blooms from nearby trees for a natural looking environment. Squirrels and a variety of birds such as cardinals, wrens, sparrows, and grackles visited the site.  Unfortunately, my setup disappeared when park maintenance workers unexpectedly cut the grass in the field.   In addition, when the “Stay at Home Order” was issued, the park became a popular place to exercise.  Many visitors came with huge bags of peanuts and bird seed which they liberally spread along the trails, attracting the resident squirrels for entertainment. With food everywhere, nothing came to my feeders.  So, I had to find another location for photography.

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Osprey with fish often head before seen.
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Nuthatch on branch in park.














2nd  Project

Elsewhere in the park, I located a large old tree stump. It was adjacent to a path and as people passed by, they tossed peanuts and seeds on it attracting squirrels and also a variety of birds –chickadees, titmice, wrens, doves, blue jays, nuthatches, and red-bellied woodpeckers.  To the scene, I added perches for the birds and some extra bird seed.  I set up my tripod and camera just off of the path and was able to photograph a number of bird species. But more people kept coming to the park, making photography here more difficult.  

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Young Gray Squirrels in tree cavity.

3rd Project

While I was taking my daily walk for exercise, I discovered a tree cavity that was home to a family of young gray squirrels. I placed my tripod just off the path and for several days photograph the activity at the hole until the young squirrels outgrew their living quarters and left. 

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Young Gray Squirrel in tree cavity stretching.
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Young Gray Squirrels in cavity.




















4th  & Continuing Project

During the spring, I had reconnected with old friends.  One living nearby owed several acres of land with an open field, a vegetable and flower garden, and woods.  She is an animal lover and already had bird feeders at two locations in her yard.  Better yet, on occasions, she saw foxes, groundhogs, and racoons from her porch.  She was kind enough to allow me to photograph at her home and set up a blind.   She loved seeing the resulting images.  The experiences photographing at her house during June and July, and August will be covered in my next newsletter.

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Pair of Black-capped Chickadees


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