Photography and disturbing birds (long)

To: <>
Subject: Photography and disturbing birds (long)
From: "Steve" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2008 17:45:54 +1000
Hello all. Someone has just broken the rules of this forum by launching an
extraordinary personal attack accusing me of 'wilful disturbance". I feel it
is only fair that I should be allowed  to pass a few comments. I have been
photographing birds for some time now and I believe that I do so with
integrity. I have an acute awareness that good shots are achieved by NOT
disturbing birds and I am constantly thinking about ways of avoiding doing
just that. Recently I spent some time at the sand spit behind Buckley's
Waterhole. During that time there was a group of waders that I was
photographing were put to the air three times: twice by raptors (Whistling
Kite & Brahminy Kite) and once by me. The first time I had entered the water
to outflank the birds so that I could get some light behind me without
walking directly up to the birds when a Whistling Kite put them to air. The
notion that I was pushing them further and further up the spit until they
had nowhere to go is just wrong (the birds were at the end of the spit
before I went out there anyway). The birds then landed on the narrow spit
between myself and the mainland.  I then walked back towards them taking
shots as I was slowly moving towards them. I then had to try to get past
them and unfortunately they took to the air. For that I am sorry, perhaps I
should have taken to the water again. I then proceeded to spend some time
taking pictures of a group of Sharp-tails and managed to do so without
upsetting them until they were put to the air by a Brahminy Kite.


I have been to this area several times and have never been guilty of
ignorantly chasing photos at all costs. In fact I don't ever recall putting
the birds to air. Anyone who has spent any time there knows that the birds
are constantly being scattered by raptors. I have also seen that dogs can be
a problem. Fishermen are not so bad because they usually spend a lot of time
in the one place. I have also seen birds scattered by passing boats. All in
all I think and occasional photographer slowly and quietly approaching the
birds, as long as he backs off occasionally, is a long way down the list of


As far as "the local authorities" are concerned, they can be a problem in
themselves. Last year I came upon a group of flouro-clad 'representatives'
of some local body rushing all over the area scattering birds in all
directions. After they had scared off some birds I was photographing, I
approach them and asked them what the hell they were doing. They said they
were 'surveying' the wildlife. They had no idea about what species they were
looking at so I ended up helping them with their survey forms. 


In summing up I think that some people on this forum sometimes get a little
precious about the behaviour of other birders. The fact is we like looking
at birds, we like photographing birds, but, unfortunately, birds don't like
being watched, and they don't like being photographed.  Every time we go
bird watching we are disturbing birds, but we're not going to stop are we?
Fortunately keeping the disturbance to a minimum enhances our chances of
success, so it is self-regulating to an extent. To the person who has judged
me so harshly: Firstly, I can't understand why you didn't approach me with
your concerns if you were right there. Secondly, I won't be curtailing my
activities any time soon. Next time you see me come and say G'day. By the
way the Common Tern was disturbed only once while I was there, not umpteen
times..(good spin doctoring though).


Steve Murray


To unsubscribe from this mailing list, 
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU