“I was kind of doing social distancing before social distancing was cool,” Mary Lee Agnew said with a laugh. The Milwaukee resident has made a practice of finding city sites where humans are rare. “I always try to avoid people because you can't get wildlife shots where there are people.”
Agnew is an urban wildlife photographer, traveling by bike to her favorite Milwaukee haunts to wait patiently and mindfully for nature to reveal herself. Since the Coronavirus outbreak, she’s been noticing changes.
“I have noticed more people in the parks who are astonished by the wildlife," Agnew said. But even with more people than typically around, Agnew has still been seeing familiar animals. “I see a lot more rabbits, racoons, opossums just strolling along,”
With increased foot traffic has come decreased street traffic. Agnew has seen the benefit to wildlife, even though the quiet was something Agnew herself at first found disquieting. “The traffic noise and noise of the planes, you kind of block it out, but it's there. When it's gone it seems really strange.”
Strange as it seemed, Agnew was quick to note the difference it made. “I started hearing birds more.” And then on her photography rounds she also saw a change to animal behavior. “They seem to be acting much more calmly than in the past, definitely more calm,” she said.
The effect on Agnew, a self-described anxiety sufferer, has likewise been relaxing. “Getting out in nature, it's so helpful to me,” she said, “There’s something really calming about watching animals live totally in the moment.”
Enjoy a few moments with some of Mary Lee Agnew’s most recent pictures: