Windsor·Video

Wildlife photographer picks up sketchbook for 'a little levity' after camera malfunctions

From fantastic little foxes to white-tailed deer to Canada warblers, Windsor photographer Donny Moore has been capturing them all. But not with his camera.

Donny Moore's wildlife sketches are proving popular on social media

Photographer sketches May bird migration as last resort

CBC News Windsor

14 days ago
2:35
When Donny Moore's camera kicked the bucket, he picked up an old naturalist habit to document bird migration in Essex County. 2:35

From fantastic little foxes to white-tailed deer to Canada warblers, Windsor, Ont., photographer Donny Moore has been capturing them all.

But not with his camera.

"Just through the kind of photography I do — I do landscape and nature photography — my camera is open to the elements a lot of the time," Moore said. "I had it out one of the wet days, and it started malfunctioning ... and then, all of a sudden, just stopped."

"I do have an older backup camera, but the reason I have a new camera is because that one's not very good either."

But Moore wasn't to be deterred, particularly in May, which is the migration season and provides some of the best bird watching opportunities of the year.

So, he picked up a sketch book.

"Traditional naturalists used to go out, before cameras and that, they would take field notes," Moore said. "Some description of the bird, and a little drawing."

"So, the idea came in my head, 'well, I have no camera, I might as well practice what I preach.'"

Moore began sketching the animals and landscapes he came across, and posting them to Facebook, where they've proven popular.

"I do take inspiration from the abstract artists like Picasso, but also some realism," he said. "I try to capture the reality of what I'm seeing."

"Unfortunately, that doesn't translate through my pencil onto the paper," Moore said. "The little sketches became a fun way, a little levity, to get through this situation."

Essex County migration route sparks interest in birding

Moore became interested in nature while growing up in Northern Ireland, but his love of nature photography really developed after he arrived in Windsor.

"I moved [to Windsor] 13 years ago, and just after I moved here there was a great grey owl spotted in Kingsville," he said. "It was on my route to work every day, it was near Christmas time."

"I'd drive past, there was a couple of people standing around, I didn't really pay much attention," Moore said. "And then, on my way home, there was maybe 20 or 30 people standing."

Moore stopped to find out what was going on, and was told it was the first time a great grey owl had been spotted in that area.

"It was like six feet away from me, this massive owl sitting on a post," he said. "I sort of lit up."

Moore was able to get some cell phone photos, and later found out Essex County is one of the best bird watching areas in all of North America, particularly in May, during the migration season.

"That's really the peak of it," he said. "But any day of the week, any month of the year can throw up a rarity in this area, just birds passing through, storms bringing them in and stuff."

"I really got hooked on bird watching after that event, and that sort of expanded into photography."

Too see more of Moore's artwork, and photographs, visit the Donny Moore Photography Facebook page.

With files from Chris Ensing

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