Letting bird photos tell our stories
Nature, and birds in particular, tell the story of where we live, according to South Pointe’s Brock Gunter-Smith. A self-taught photographer, Brock has succeeded in capturing everything from muskrats to deer and coots — which he feels “have the ugliest babies, known as cooties” — even an osprey that had just caught its dinner. Did you know there are fish in our neighbourhood lakes?
As much as he takes it all in, Gunter-Smith admits to being partial to what he calls, the “mysterious birds” such as owls and cormorants.
“They make me wonder ‘Where do they go?’” he says.
There is no shortage of birds and wildlife to capture in his own backyard but he is also known for exploring the area with camera in hand. He is surprised by how many people will stop and talk to him about the birds. Other spots he can be found include FortWhyte Alive, the English Garden at Assiniboine Park and Oak Hammock Marsh, which is known as a birding hotspot. All his experiences have him now thinking of putting a book together.
Having left Facebook behind, Brock’s social media channel of choice is Twitter, where he has connected with an entire birding/nature community by using common hashtags (otherwise known as the pound symbol). Despite being a bit of an introvert, he has discovered how much he enjoys sharing his photos with others. In sharing, he has learned the importance of being comfortable with oneself and the need to set aside the notion of judgment. To help explore, Brock is a fan of The Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app, which can even identify bird calls. By recording them with your phone, the app will then provide both a name and visual for the bird(s) recorded.
He says ebird.org is another sit he recommends. It can identify birding hotspots within a given area.
His nemesis? With a smile on his face, he admits that the red-breasted nuthatch is one bird that has continued to elude him. Brock may not have vocalized it but his smile clearly shows he is persistent and that, one day, he will succeed in capturing one.
To join Brock in telling the story of where we live, grab your camera or your phone and just go out for a walk. There are plenty of stories to be told.
Bridgwater Forest community correspondent
Debbie Ristimaki is a community correspondent for Bridgwater Forest.