Date: 2/8/19 4:01 pm
From: Clyde Sorenson <sorenson...>
Subject: Our recent drone conversations and an incident...
All- I observed the recent discussion on drones and birding and didn't
engage because I really didn't have anything to offer. I have a drone, but
would never consider flying it so that it might disturb birds; I use mine
exclusively for landscape photography and the like. I'm happy with that.

However, Phil Doerr and I had an experience this afternoon that incensed
both of us. We went to see the Raleigh O'neal Rd. long-tailed duck
(scored!), and then went over to Shelley Lake to see the eagle nest and
anything else interesting we might happen upon. We didn't know exactly
where the nest was, but by and by, we found it. As I was approaching the
nest tree on the green way, I heard a curious sound, and then saw a small
drone flying directly over the nest, and perhaps only 15-20 ft above it! I
started looking for the "pilot" and saw a guy at the nearby sewer line man
hole obviously controlling it; by this time, Phil was aware of it and we
intervened. We informed him that he was not only breaking every ethical
birding rule but also at least two federal laws; he informed us that he
didn't know those laws and that he wasn't hurting anything, and that the
bird couldn't possibly be stressed because it didn't even raise its head
when he flew over it! This sent Phil (and, I'll admit, me) into Yosemite
Sam mode, and additional things were said (aspersions aimed at our age,
height, likelihood of heart attack, etc, on his part; my assertion that he
was at least one anatomical body part, etc.). I took the guy's picture and
he finally landed his "bird" and quickly departed in the other direction.
Phil and I were extremely steamed.

A short while later as we were heading back to the car, the guy came up to
us and apologized for the name calling and other imprudent things he said.
We explained to him again how wrong what he did was, and he seemed to hear
us; we explained that the bird could have been extremely stressed, and that
its natural impulse would be to hunker down tight to the nest, since its
evolutionary history does not include how to cope with small buzzy things
hovering directly overhead. He assured us he would not be doing such things
again, and we parted. I am still extremely troubled by the whole affair and
left wondering what to do.

As we were leaving, we saw another guy with a much larger, high end drone
preparing for launch in the parking lot below the dam. I sincerely hope he
wasn't intending to fly it to the north end of the lake.

If you are at Shelley Lake, be on the lookout for this kind of assault on
the eagles. Any advice would be appreciated.

Take care,
Clyde Sorenson
Clayton and Raleigh, NC

 
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