Date: 4/27/19 9:52 am From: Steve Long <steve.long4...> Subject: Re: [MDBirding] A bird photographer's cautionary tale
"Acting like a predator" is something you need to learn to avoid, both
for the sake of the wildlife and for the opportunity to get good pictures.
Most animals are aware of what is going on around them, especially with
people. They seem to try to gauge intent, maybe based on individual
experiences with people. They understand when they are being looked at,
and apparently worry that means they are in danger. When I fill feeders
while there are geese on land nearby, they will often stay put if I (1)
don't look directly at them, (2) walk in a slow shuffle, looking down,
and (3) appear to be headed toward something related to me (a feeder or
a door, for instance). The "regulars" get to eats some of the
droppings, so they seem to understand what I am doing, and become more
complacent over the winter. But, if I violate any of those 3 rules, or
if somebody else goes out there, they fly off and land in the water.
When looking at animals, even birds at moderate distances, I avoid
letting them see my eyes. When using binoculars, I make the motion to
raise them to my eyes while looking well away from the animal I want to
observe, then SLOWLY swing to get the animal in view. I try not to make
any steps in their direction.
Blinds work a lot better than being in the open. Some animals don't
seem to recognize that there even is a person in the blind. Being up-sun
and down-wind helps with that, as well as providing good lighting for
pictures, UNLESS the sun shines THROUGH the blind well enough that the
animal sees your silhouette moving around inside.
Sometimes an automobile works as a blind, even when the window are
rolled down. A lot of animal seem to accept people who are "inside"
something, even if that something is a slowly moving vehicle (even a
golf cart), especially if it is on a familiar path. But, just opening
the door on the other side of a car and stepping out so that the animal
can see your feet under the car is usually enough to scare them off. As
one of my ecologist buddies told me, "Predators don't roll."
There is a lot of lore and technology available for seriously stalking
an animal, but that is found more in hunting and military literature.
Look-up "Ghillie suit" if you want to see how to disguise your shape as
well as your color.
Steve Long, Oxford
On 4/27/2019 11:38 AM, David Gibson wrote:
> Hi all, I've watched and photographed a Killdeer family since before hatch. I wrote the following in another forum about what took place after I'd been watching the Killdeer family for over an hour (my most recent stretch):
> "For no apparent reason, the parents decided to usher the chicks out of the meadow (lots of food, safety, and quiet), under the gate (they'd been in a gated preserve), across a busy road (there was no traffic at the time), onto some railroad tracks, and then to a small marshy area just beyond."
> Well, I went back to the area this a.m. The family had returned to that meadow (the breeding site). I carefully moved in, and at a "safe distance" sat down and began taking pictures with my 500mm Canon. One photo is attached. In a matter of 4 or 5 minutes, the above scene played out all over again. The parents ushered their chicks out of the meadow and back to the railroad tracks. And I left the area with a clear understanding as to why they had done that in the first place. After I had written the above, someone responded and took me to task for "acting like a predator." This is a tough pill to swallow, but it turns out that she was probably right. And someone else has since reminded me that "it’s especially important during breeding season to give even more space to nature’s families."
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