Are birders having an identity crisis

To: L&L Knight <>
Subject: Are birders having an identity crisis
From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2018 21:57:51 +0000
When I began guiding in the early 1980s few of my clients carried cameras 
either.  Later, most who wanted to take photographs were clients who came 
alone, or with a friend or spouse.  On one occasion the birder employed my 
husband to carry his huge lens for him!  Consequently, there was no friction 
and just as well, because some keen listers who participated in my PhD study 
had no time for photographers - they blamed them for disturbing birds before 
they could be identified.  When I guided international groups photographers 
were in a minority, and I suspect that their tour leaders had some regulation 
to minimise friction.

Since retiring from full-time guiding in 2013 I’ve been engaged by a number of 
groups mostly led by American bird tour operators.  Within these groups 
birder/photographers have generally been in the minority, and it appears that 
complaints from others, including spouses, have been one reason.    In this 
case the reasons differed from those in my study as few of the keen birders’ 
partners were keen listers.  But even when I’ve taken the birders out 
separately they don’t take many photos.  It may be that these mostly seniors 
are less interested in listing.



Denise Lawungkurr  Goodfellow Ph.D.
PO Box 71
Darwin River, NT, Australia 0841
043 8650 835

On 19 Jan 2018, at 5:32 pm, Laurie Knight <> wrote:

> G’day Iain,
> I’m not sure that the distinction between birders and photographers holds up 
> these days.  Perhaps there is sometimes some friction between telescope 
> oriented birders and SLR oriented birders.  Both use nockers.
> Back in the 35mm film era, very few birders would have routinely used an SLR 
> on a regular basis.  Now that DSLRs and long lenses are relatively 
> affordable, able to produce high quality pix and the incremental cost of a 
> pic is negligible, birders are happy to blaze away.
> Birding with a camera allows you to share your observations [in a different 
> way to field book notes] and to examine the images in greater detail on a 
> computer later on.  They are good for checking out groups of birds where you 
> can pick up on details that you wouldn’t in real time.
> The dynamics of birding with a camera vary with the situation - static waders 
> in good light, pelagic birds in flight on a bumpy sea, hard to spot/focus on 
> birds in dark forests, birds after dark ….  There are some contexts where 
> birders are going to leave the DSLR at home [like heavy duty bushwalks, 
> particularly in wet conditions].
> These days cameras are part of every day life - they are embedded in the 
> smart phones that most people carry around.  People are getting into the 
> habit of recording stuff [some destined for 1.5 seconds of viewing on social 
> media], so it is becoming second nature.  Perhaps people are becoming more 
> dependent on pictures for their memories …
> As for the dynamics of guided birding trips, perhaps DSLRs enable birders to 
> get onto the birds without having to wait in a queue to view it through the 
> guide’s scope …
> The bottom line is that when I am going on a birding trip overseas, I will 
> probably have the DSLR and make extensive use of it.  There is no distinction 
> between birding and photography for me.
> Regards, Laurie
>> On 19 Jan 2018, at 8:50 am, Iain Campbell <> wrote:
>> Hi guys,
>> I wrote an article about the merging of photography and birding, and what
>> it means to be  birder now. I used questionnaires for 230 birders to do
>> this, and I analysed the results after also talking o a few participants
>> with a please explain.  The article mentions new types of trips for the
>> crossovers but is not a sales pitch. Take a look at the article on the link
>> below and please tell me what you think, but read it first. We had 1800
>> responses from facebook alone, but it was clear that some looked at the
>> title and decided their view, ie "birders good, photographers evil" or
>> "photographers good, birders jealous". Let's not do that here.
>> Cheers,
>> Iain
>> --
>> Iain Campbell
>> Tropical Birding Tours
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