Whether you’re visiting the wild spaces that remain in Lebanon County, or if you’re simply keeping a watchful eye out your back window, chances are you’ll spot some local wildlife and, if you’re quick enough with a camera, you might capture a good shot.

Now, there’s a place to share it. Lebanon County Wildlife is an Facebook group where members share their photos. Everything is welcome, whether they’re artfully taken with professional gear or quickly snagged with a cellphone.

Browse through a few months’ worth of photos and you’ll find foxes and coyotes, bear tracks, skunks and possums, deer, squirrels and chipmunks, frogs and turtles, and lots and lots of birds: cardinals, bluebirds, ravens, turkeys, finches, ducks and geese, grebes, hawks, eagles, owls, woodpeckers and plenty more.

Created on Jan. 17 by Lebanon County resident Amy Beres, who works for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources at Memorial Lake State Park in East Hanover Township, the group had grown to 320 members as of April 20.

Daily, members share their pictures and comment on others, sometimes getting pretty excited about especially good shots and rare captures. They share tips, compare locations and overall seem pretty supportive of everyone’s efforts.

“Thanks for sharing! I could watch birds all day,” Kellie George wrote after Jeane Shutter posted a photo of snow geese at Middle Creek.

“Love your pics,” Jo Ann Steinmetz told Beres under a photo of a nuthatch in flight.

“Simply beautiful,” Barb Heckendorn told Travis Boyd under a photo of a snowy owl resting in a snowy patch in a farmer’s field.

Beres said in her initial message to the group that she created it “to share sightings, photos, videos and conversation about wildlife in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania,” and she posted a couple of her “lucky sightings” — a fox, a coyote, a raccoon and a red-headed woodpecker — to get the ball rolling.

The first photo collage posted to Lebanon County Wildlife by Amy Beres on Jan. 17, 2022.

Others quickly joined in.

Beres declined to be interviewed, calling it “kind of a non-story, sorry.” However, several members of the group were eager to talk about it.

“I came upon the group on Facebook and joined as I love wildlife photography,” Barbara Vanderstappen of Lebanon said in a message to LebTown.

“During the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, I set my Nikon DSLR on my tripod and started photographing the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and occasional groundhog in my backyard thru my kitchen window. I called it Thru My Window and it gave me great happiness. I’ve continued it ever since.”

To date, Vanderstappen says she’s submitted just four photos and a video.

“I didn’t want to flood the page with my photos but have many others to post, especially of birds,” she told LebTown. “I love seeing wildlife and really enjoy seeing it through others’ eyes. It shows us of the beauty of nature around us and how we need to do all we can to protect and preserve it.”

Vanderstappen said she doesn’t understand people who move into a wooded area and find the local wildlife “annoying.”

“We moved into their home,” she said. “I found that photographing them helped me to learn about their behavior and antics. I get absolute joy out of watching them now. I hope others will too.”

Photo by Barbara Vanderstappen, posted April 8, 2022.

Jean Wertz Zaun of Fredericksburg said she heard about the group from a friend who “thought I would appreciate the group as I am an enthusiastic nature-lover.”

Zaun said she enjoys “seeing what other members of the group are seeing and photographing,” and she uses some of the group’s photos as a source for her oil paintings.

“I love the group because it’s nice to know that there are other like-minded individuals in our community who have a reverence for nature and know its value, and want to share their sightings,” she said.

Don Maulfair lives in South Annville Township but said most of his photos “come from a farm in North Annville along the Swatara Creek, and some pictures come from kayaking down the Swatara Creek.”

“Lebanon County Wildlife just popped up in my feed as something I might like and after checking it out I joined because I am an avid outdoorsman and I have always had an interest in photography,” he explained. Far from a professional, he said most of his photos came from trail cameras he has set up on the farm and iPhone snapshots taken “while floating the Swatty.”

“I just enjoy looking at everyone else’s pictures of their adventures with wildlife,” he said.

Photo submitted by Don Maulfair from a trail camera, posted March 12, 2022.

Jeane Shutter of Lebanon also heard about the group on Facebook and joined “because I’m an animal lover and love taking photos of wildlife and sharing them with others, and I enjoy seeing other’s photos and interacting with people.”

She’s submitted a dozen or so photos so far, she said. She also contributes to other bird and photography groups on Facebook.

Photo taken by Jeane Shutter at Middle Creek, posted Feb. 6, 2022.

Travis Boyd of Newmanstown is a professional photographer who, so far, has shared several dozen photos with the group. He said he was invited to join Lebanon County Wildlife and serve as a moderator.

“I joined so I could share the beautiful and variety of wildlife that is in the county,” he said. “I enjoy seeing what other people around the county post.”


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