Date: 9/28/17 7:48 am From: Jon Cefus <jcefus...> Subject: [Ohio-birds] Sooty Tern - Reflections
First, I want to say that the following is a reflection of my own thoughts on the recent appearance of the Sooty Tern near Dover, OH, which was found by Kent Miller and seen by many of you who will read this...or perhaps delete it. These thoughts do not necessarily represent the thoughts of others.
Yesterday during a brief break from work, I was able to drive over to the gravel pit at the corner of Lair Rd. and SR 516, where the tern set up shop for approximately 2 weeks as far as we know. The previous day, the bird had been reported as absent, and I did not see it yesterday. The presumption at this point is that it has moved on, or something else happened (Peregrine? Health Issues?). While there were some reports that expressed concern over the health of the bird, overall it had appeared to be flying and hunting well during it's stay and no interventions (as far as I know) were attempted to capture and check on the bird. I think we all hope that it grabbed a thermal and started a journey back to the south.
Overall, the experience of seeing this bird was overwhelmingly positive. It was great to be close by when a friend found it and to be there the moment it "magically" appeared again (was probably sitting incognito on the tire the whole time we searched), and when more good friends showed up soon after, which continued for days after that. It was nice being there on Sunday morning when many of Ohio's birding community were lined up waiting for the fog to lift and get a look at this beautiful wayward stranger to Ohio. Many there also were reflective of the damage that Hurricane Irma had brought to Florida, as well as reflective about the fact that a wonderful Ohio birder who lived so nearby (Hallie Mason) was not there to see it too. As one person said, "she would have arrived with a car load of Amish folks and been thrilled to see it..."
The variety of skill and experience level of folks there was remarkable, similar to the finding of the Kelp Gull by Ben Morrison, which brought folks who were locals with zero birds on their life lists up to ABA Area Big Year players trying to break records. There were listers, and chasers, and local patch enthusiasts and everything in between. Whatever the motive of most of the folks there, almost everyone was cordial and friendly, especially to the local residents who had no idea what was going on there. They were accustomed to folks stopping there to observe the Eagles that nest nearby, but this was unprecedented. Kudos to all who took time to invite a passerby to come over and look through the scope and talk about about the bird, where it generally belongs, and why it was so unusual in our neck of the woods.
As of today, I am aware of only 2 incidents of poor behavior at the site. The first was a local photographer who took liberties with walking to the edge of the pit to try to get closer, which was addressed by the owners of the property and some birders who saw it happen (kudos to those who spoke up). The second was more egregious. A birder/photographer from the east coast took it upon himself to actually walk out to the area where the tires were and take photos of the bird in optimal light. The photos are exceptional, but the behavior was willfully disrespectful. Worse still, the justification for the behavior was "no harm, no foul." Of course, this could not be less true. There is very much harm that is done to the birding community when someone decides that rules do not apply to them. Ignorance can be claimed, but we all know better. We are ALL stewards of birds and birding when we participate in this avocation. We have a RESPONSIBILITY to be accountable for our own actions and behavior and to speak up when we see someone who is potentially undermining the well being of the bird, and the community who wants to see that bird thrive and survive. This person also put the owner of the gravel pit in jeopardy of being in violation of rules governing the operation of these sites, which goes to show why so many land owners won't tolerate ANY kind of presence on their property. The action was unconscionable.
I saw many photographers at the site use good judgment. I began birding by taking photos and understand as well as anyone the pull of getting that better shot. I still struggle with that from time to time. 99% of the people, including photographers, who showed up to see the bird did what we ALL know is the right thing: Follow the rules, respect private property, and represent the birding community in the best possible way. Thank you to all those folks who knew that getting a great shot did not supersede great ethical choices.
I also want to thank the folks who were willing to write more detailed reports of the bird's well being when they came to see it so that we could do our best to monitor it's heath. Thanks to Tim Jasinski for taking time to help educate me on what to look for if the bird was struggling, and for his work on Lights Out Cleveland as he gathers data to make a case for ending the senseless use of leaving buildings lit at night, which results in countless bird deaths and injuries each year.
If you are one of the hundreds of folks who got to see this bird and represent our community honorably, THANK YOU!!! We almost hit 100%.
Last, but certainly not least, a big thank you to Kent Miller not only for finding this bird and sharing his find with all of us, but more so for being a good representative of our community. Kent cares about birds (among MANY other wonders of the natural world). He cares about people. He cares about education. And he cares about our community. I am lucky to call him a friend. Kent walks the walk...
Until we meet again in the fog anticipating that first glimpse...fare thee well, wherever you fare.
Jon Cefus Carroll Co.
-- He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher...or, as his wife would have it, an idiot. -Douglas Adams
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