Shelton photographer captures the beauty of local wildlife

As he glanced across the Housatonic River on a windy afternoon, Marcin Stawiarski spotted an osprey flying high above the railroad bridge.

Stawiarski, 38, is a photographer from Shelton who specializes in wildlife shots, and his eyes are attuned to the birds and other animals that inhabit the Valley region.

Shelton’s Riverwalk is one of his favorite places for taking photographs of larger birds, such as ospreys and hawks.

His cousin, Michael Stawiarski, 27, of Seymour, joins him on weekend photo jaunts.

As a flock of Canada geese honked by over the river, Stawiarski spotted a falcon, not an everyday sight.

Leisure time activity

Both men agreed that taking photographs outdoors is a good way to spend time with family members. “We just enjoy a hobby,” Marcin Stawiarski said. “It’s a hobby done in leisure time.”

He was there, camera in hand, when a black bear was captured in May in a Shelton neighborhood, and his photographs appeared in the print and online versions of the Shelton Herald.
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Click below to see Marcin Stawiarski's photos of the Shelton bear:
Stawiarski said he heard from news reports that the bear was on the prowl in Shelton, and his wife Monica alerted him that people were gathering in the Coram Road area to watch for the animal.

“Our neighbor called, and said he saw the bear in his back yard, about 400 yards from our house,” Stawiarski said. “I first saw him in a tree.”

From his experience watching wild animals, he guessed the bear would circle around behind the houses across the street. Sure enough, he met up with the animal there.

“He looked at me for a minute, and moved on,” he said, and he was amused that the bear was strolling past the houses “like a building official.”

Bear series

Stawiarski took a series of photographs showing the bear walking through the neighborhood, perching in a tree, and being taken away by state environmental conservation officers. The animal was later determined to be female.

After the bear was captured, Shelton’s bear was transported and released in the Newtown area, Stawiarski said, and he’s heard from a friend that the bear has been sighted there.

He guesses that the harsh winter may have driven bears into urban areas in search of food.

'You have to be careful'

Stawiarski has also photographed foxes, coyotes and a wolf that appeared as he was taking photos of a bald eagle. When the wolf saw him, the animal “took off,” he said.

Taking photos of bears and other wild animals is “fun, but you have to be careful,” he said, and stay a good distance away from them. If they approach you, “walk away,” he said.

Bird photographer

For the most part, Stawiarski takes photographs of birds, and he said that Silver Sands State Park in Milford is a good place to spot migrating birds.

He has photographed bald eagles along the Route 8 corridor from Derby into Seymour, and at the Stevenson Dam and Lake Zoar, and he’s sighted turkey vultures in Shelton.

The best places to find birds are fields near rivers, pools or dams.
“It’s not easy to find them,” he said. “You’ve got to wait and know the places. They can appear in one second. The camera equipment has to be ready.”

Spring, fall and winter are the best times to photograph birds, since there are fewer leaves on the trees, he said.

“You’ve got to be patient and sacrifice weekend hours. But it’s fun. It’s the right way to spend time. If you want to photograph small birds, they’re everywhere,” he said, and he and his cousin take photos of blue jays, woodpeckers and hummingbirds.

Started at young age

Stawiarski’s love of photography began when he was a 10-year-old in his native Poland, and the technology has changed dramatically since then. He now uses a sophisticated Canon digital camera.

He emigrated from Poland in 1999, lived for four years in Stamford, and then moved to Shelton where several family members had settled.

He and his wife are the parents of Fabian, 2, and Victoria, 10.
He owns Ms Design & Construction LLC in Shelton, and has taken photographs in his leisure time for more than 20 years.

Michael Stawiarski is learning photography from his cousin. “He’s showed me a lot of good techniques,” he said. “We both like it. We like animals. It’s a good opportunity to take pictures.”

Marcin Stawiarski also takes portraits and travels to air shows, car shows and carnivals to take pictures. He also shoots commercial photos for companies.

But animal photography holds a special place in his heart. “I take a lot of photos at zoos,” he said, and he’s planning a summer trip to Colorado to discover the wildlife out west.

Living in the United States provides a variety of locations and subjects. “Each state is different,” Stawiarski said. “Every picture is different.”

 Click below to see Marcin Stawiarski's photos of bald eagles: