Sara Montour Lewis — Seattle Commercial Children's Lifestyle + Wildlife Conservation Photographer

Field Notes

These field notes are a little peak behind the scenes of personal adventures, creation of stock imagery, location scouting, etc.

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Our Urban Wilderness — Lunch on the Minnesota River

Fort Snelling State Park is one of my very favorite places near Minneapolis and, I think, one of the most underrated. There are so many trails for hiking/skiing/biking, lakes for swimming, rivers for kayaking and wildlife galore for watching. Every time I’m in town it’s my go-to place if I need a quick break or energy boost.

On this day I drove in and noticed a carp laying on the ice, so I parked as quickly as I could and hiked down to the other side of the river to wait for the wildlife to hopefully show up. It was below zero and freezing, but (always) so worth it to spend a couple hours watching creatures go about their day and on this day the Bald Eagles were all about a free lunch.

Bald Eagles are commonly pictured as the ultimate Apex Predator in the bird world, viewed as savage hunters. What’s funny, though, is that more often than not they’re actually total thieves and scavengers; stealing their food from other bird’s efforts more often than hunting for it themselves. In fact, Benjamin Franklin didn’t want the Bald Eagle to be America’s symbol because he said it was ‘a bird of bad moral character that does not get his living honestly’. 😂 Having witnessed thousands of Bald Eagles in my life I can’t say that assessment is entirely wrong (and when I’m at my most cynical about the state of America it seems to be a pretty accurate reflection as a whole. Oy.), but the truth is that I still love these little monsters and will stop and stare every time I see one.

Enjoy this frigid afternoon on the banks of the Minnesota River!

If you fell in love with any of these images and would like to keep them in your life, prints + other fun products are available in my shop and licenses for commercial use are available at Cavan and Offset.

If you aren’t familiar with my Our Urban Wilderness project, here’s a quick recap of the series and my intent behind it from my first OUW post:

Inevitably, every time I post an image on instagram + facebook of the wildlife I find on these walks, someone will say something along the lines of "where did you find that?!" or "I wish I lived closer to 'XYZ' so I could see something that cool!" and I always have to laugh because 90% of the time I was just on a quick walk in the middle of the city and stumbled upon some crazy creature. I'm guilty of it, too, though. If I see a photo of a walrus or a narwhal I want to hop a plane to the arctic immediately, if not sooner. I know, though, that there are a million cool creatures within a few miles of us all right this second and all we really have to do to see them is slow down, open our eyes and be patient. This year alone I know I've seen dozens + dozens of animals that I've never seen before.

The second reason I wanted to do this project is because there seems to be this mental box that we put on wildlife where we think that humans exist in "THE CITY" and wildlife exists in "THE WILD", as if we all live in a zoo together and there are barriers between our habitats. (All you have to do is live in an area where bears or coyotes have wandered into residential neighborhoods to realize how strongly people believe this.) The fact, though, is that we're all coexisting and our paths cross far more often than we all realize. I think this can happen, peacefully, if we're all just a little more aware and if we don't turn into alarmists every time we see something that we're sure belongs in "THE WILD".