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Birders in Fife giving birders a bad name

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Old Thursday 26th January 2017, 14:51   #1
Cuckoo-shrike
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Birders in Fife giving birders a bad name

I was pretty disgusted to find these birders looking at Waxwings in Buckhaven today completely blocking the pavement for at least the half hour I was there. I saw them just stand there yakking as an elderly couple with shopping bags had to walk on to the busy road to get round them. The second shot is from the other side of the road, where there was ample parking available, as there was just a few yards around the corner. I would have said something but thought better of it due to the unfriendly attitude of two others that I spoke to.

It doesn't take much to earn the goodwill of the public. It doesn't take much to upset them either and that can have repercussions for us all.
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Old Thursday 26th January 2017, 15:11   #2
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Not good. Those look like photographers not birders! I don't recognise them btw.

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Old Thursday 26th January 2017, 15:14   #3
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Ah yes Rob, I guess there may be a distinction to be drawn!
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Old Thursday 26th January 2017, 16:51   #4
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If you see someone standing on a housing estate or in a town in full camo gear then its a safe bet as to what they are doing. I'm sure you'll find one at most urban Waxwings at the moment!
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Old Thursday 26th January 2017, 17:19   #5
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Sorry, how is your comment relevant?
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Old Thursday 26th January 2017, 18:33   #6
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It does not help this time, but I believe there is legislation in progress to make pavement parking illegal in Scotland. A bit of voluntary consideration though would have been a lot more desirable.
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Old Friday 27th January 2017, 07:24   #7
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Agreed - these guys are photographers (not carrying bins is a dead give-away) but they're still giving birders a bad name, as generally the public wouldn't distinguish between the two.
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Old Friday 27th January 2017, 07:59   #8
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Agreed - these guys are photographers (not carrying bins is a dead give-away) but they're still giving birders a bad name, as generally the public wouldn't distinguish between the two.
True enough - although as a birder who likes to take photos you can be both! That said yesterday I got all the way to Chichester Harbour only to find I'd left my bins behind and felt a) a pratt and b) naked. Did have the scope so made do for a while, got a couple of long distance photos of the LT duck and Scaup at the gravel pits, but then gave up and came home. Birding without bins is crap and pretty useless IMHO.

Won't happen again!
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Old Friday 27th January 2017, 18:47   #9
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It does not help this time, but I believe there is legislation in progress to make pavement parking illegal in Scotland. A bit of voluntary consideration though would have been a lot more desirable.
I didn't realise it wasn't illegal up here. That would explain why a police car went past without stopping.
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Old Friday 27th January 2017, 18:48   #10
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I've never really considered that there might be bird photographers who aren't binocular-carrying birders.
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Old Saturday 28th January 2017, 08:41   #11
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I've never really considered that there might be bird photographers who aren't binocular-carrying birders.
A good percentage I'd say, possibly a majority.
Having done the first 40 years (from 10!) as a 'bins and notebook' birder, it's only retirement that has given me the time to expand into first a scope and then camera and lens. As I've commented elsewhere I find it harder now to see details in fast moving or flying birds and photos are a real help in confirming ID's I find. Lot of crap to carry mind.

However - what I have also noticed as I talk to other photographers in the field, and also from comments in the Gallery on here, is that many (most?) have come into birding the other way - starting as a photographer and then starting to photograph birds. Accurate ID and observation of details and behaviour is a secondary priority to a 'good photo'. Some seem actually to have very little knowledge or interest in birds and birding outside photography in that they either don't own bins, or never go birding with just bins.

I have found to my surprise that some don't want to know anything about the bird, and many don't seem to care if they've got the ID completely wrong as well. Guys with long lenses but no bins from my experience should be avoided! (although like me they might just have forgotten them !)

Is this the experience of others?
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Old Saturday 28th January 2017, 14:49   #12
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Parking issues aside, I'm not sure seemingly pointing a whopping great big zoom lens at someones front bedroom window will be creating a happy, warm feeling towards birders, especially if said birder is dressed as an atypical stalker.

Last week, I was challenged by a gentleman who's back garden borders part of my regular patch. At the bottom of his back garden is a tall fence below which is a high bank of scrub, popular with lots of small birds. On this particular day, I'd taken a few shots of Goldfinch on teasel growing on the bank. I never point a camera at anyones house, but fifteen minutes later, this gentleman came along the path and stated that I had caused panic in his house. His wife had seen me taking photos and thought I was casing the joint for a robbery. It was all very amicable. I explained what I was doing (he had sort of guessed anyway) and we ended up having a long chat about birds. He was not a birder, but had a scope set up in a back room for watching the shipping on the Forth. He even showed me some photos on his phone of Purple Sandpiper that he had photo-scoped.

Anyway, my point is, that the described situation could have gone horribly wrong if a person with less understanding had been involved. And even though innocent, I do feel a little guilt that I had caused the gentleman's wife any stress. I've now purposed not to photograph common birds in that section of scrub, just to minimise any possibility of a more serious misunderstanding.

I don't know if there is any established etiquette for birding in residential areas, but I think those pictured on this thread are probably standing outside of any etiquette, and indeed common sense.
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Old Saturday 28th January 2017, 19:42   #13
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Well I've learned something here. It hadn't occurred to me that these people weren't birders so I must apologise to all birders in Fife! I wasn't aware of the existence of this particular cohort (bird photographers who aren't birders), but looking back on this incident it does perhaps account for why, when I approached them, wearing binoculars but carrying only a bridge camera, I didn't receive that characteristic, even unspoken acknowledgement that usually passes between birders. It was more of a grimace with just a hint of menace.

Reports of rarities in residential areas are always liberally laced with requests not to peer towards houses, look over fences, etc, but one wouldn't have thought there would be a need to ask visitors not to park across a pavement and stand in groups blocking what little remains of passage along it.

Is there a code of behaviour for wildlife photographers? Maybe one of the paragraphs could relate to the wearing of ridiculous camouflage gear :-)
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Old Saturday 28th January 2017, 20:37   #14
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. . .However - what I have also noticed as I talk to other photographers in the field, and also from comments in the Gallery on here, is that many (most?) have come into birding the other way - starting as a photographer and then starting to photograph birds. Accurate ID and observation of details and behaviour is a secondary priority to a 'good photo'. Some seem actually to have very little knowledge or interest in birds and birding outside photography in that they either don't own bins, or never go birding with just bins.

I have found to my surprise that some don't want to know anything about the bird, and many don't seem to care if they've got the ID completely wrong as well. Guys with long lenses but no bins from my experience should be avoided! (although like me they might just have forgotten them !)
It's exactly the same here in Reno, exactly! And I say this as a dedicated bird photographer myself who never wears camouflage or leaves the house without binoculars, and still carries a birding notebook. While I can't help being a little scornful of the pure photographer types, I can't say I've ever seen the local specimens behave particularly irresponsibly, either to the birds or to other people. No more so, at least, than the increasingly common sort of birder who wants a photo for every new tick.
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Old Monday 30th January 2017, 10:12   #15
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I've never really considered that there might be bird photographers who aren't binocular-carrying birders.
I don't keep up with modern trends so I'm not sure what is current in the birdwatcher/photography world.
My only experience of this was a couple of years ago.I was walking along a road and noticed a man with a camera.He didn't have any bins on him.He was snapping away at a Blackbird which he reckoned was a Ring Ouzel.I tried to explain it was a boring old Blackbird but would have none of it and said he would enlarge the photos and analyse the pics when he got home.
He then saw a Meadow Pipit which he was trying to make into something rare and repeated the process- taking loads of photos.Again I explained it was a plain old Meadow Pipit, but he was sure he had seen something rare.
I suppose we all try to learn about birds in a different way and he was happy enough with his method, so that's fair enough.

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Old Monday 30th January 2017, 10:55   #16
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I tried to explain it was a boring old Blackbird but would have none of it.
If you tried to explain it was a 'boring old' Blackbird, I would probably have none of it too :) Can't say I find any birds boring.
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Old Monday 30th January 2017, 11:35   #17
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I'm not sure it's fair to class non bin carrying photographers as not being birders and somehow seperate from the birding world. Is it not simply the case that the birding world has changed and people whose main priority is photography are now a common part of the overall birding scene.
After all twitchers/listers are very different to dedicated local patchers but all still part of the overall hobby of birding shouldn't bird photographers be thought of in the same way?
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Old Monday 30th January 2017, 14:31   #18
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I'm not sure it's fair to class non bin carrying photographers as not being birders and somehow seperate from the birding world. Is it not simply the case that the birding world has changed and people whose main priority is photography are now a common part of the overall birding scene.
After all twitchers/listers are very different to dedicated local patchers but all still part of the overall hobby of birding shouldn't bird photographers be thought of in the same way?
No - I disagree here. Twitching and listing are very different to local patching, but it's not often you'll find a birder who exclusively does one or the other - for most, it's a bit of both (or a lot of one and a little bit of the other...)

The new wave of bird photographers don't seem particularly interested in (generalization alert!) learning about bird ID, contributing records, doing surveys, working a patch etc. It's all just about getting the pic. Comparing them to birders is like comparing car mechanics to racing drivers. They're both into cars but there, the similarity ends...

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with that as a hobby - each to their own, and the more folk who need birds, the better....
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Old Monday 30th January 2017, 18:27   #19
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This does seem to be a rising phenomenon. I met a photographer at Pennington in Hampshire maybe four or five years ago and asked him (before I saw he had no bins) what he'd got: his response was "I won't know till I get home, same as you" - I just managed not to deck him.... Offence definitely taken!

Likewise the Stoke Red-footed Falcon two/three years ago attracted whole camera clubs as well as many individual photographers none of whom were birders or indeed aspirant birders: their fieldcraft was zero, much of their behaviour was ignorant, and they had no interest in the bird's welfare.

These photographers who are not birders are a royal pain in the behind and need to be dissociated from birders and birder-photographers as much as possible, especially in the minds of residents with whom birders local and travelling interact. So talk to the locals: point out the ones without bins are not birders: explain the birdwatchers' and countryside codes and do your best to make it obvious who is abiding by them and who isn't - and why.

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Old Tuesday 31st January 2017, 11:28   #20
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No - I disagree here. Twitching and listing are very different to local patching, but it's not often you'll find a birder who exclusively does one or the other - for most, it's a bit of both (or a lot of one and a little bit of the other...)

The new wave of bird photographers don't seem particularly interested in (generalization alert!) learning about bird ID, contributing records, doing surveys, working a patch etc. It's all just about getting the pic. Comparing them to birders is like comparing car mechanics to racing drivers. They're both into cars but there, the similarity ends...

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with that as a hobby - each to their own, and the more folk who need birds, the better....
I still don't see why that means we should completely seperate them from 'our' hobby. To use your example wouldn't it be fair to describe machanics and racing drivers all as ''car people'' and i'm sure there are plenty of mechanics who do a bit of racing and plenty of racing drivers who do plenty of work on cars.
As you say they are both into cars so why can't photographers and birders all just be 'into birds'? in totally different ways yes but all still part of the overall hobby of watching birds.
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Old Tuesday 31st January 2017, 14:16   #21
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I still don't see why that means we should completely seperate them from 'our' hobby. To use your example wouldn't it be fair to describe machanics and racing drivers all as ''car people'' and i'm sure there are plenty of mechanics who do a bit of racing and plenty of racing drivers who do plenty of work on cars.
As you say they are both into cars so why can't photographers and birders all just be 'into birds'? in totally different ways yes but all still part of the overall hobby of watching birds.
No-one is saying we shouldn't say both groups are 'into birds' - but really, what the two groups of people do are entirely different, and that's why we have different names for the two very different hobbies. Personally, I'm not sure I want to be classed in the same bracket as someone who isn't actually interested in birds, identification, fieldcraft, and the birding community. Likewise, I'm sure the toggers don't see themselves as similar in any way to someone who sets his camera onto sports mode and presses the button until he gets something that would be useful in a description or similar.

Anglers and fishermen are both 'into fish' but there's a necessary distinction between the two, despite the fact that essentially both sets are intent on taking fish out of water
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Old Tuesday 31st January 2017, 15:10   #22
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I agree with Mark above. On a very practical level I have now learnt the hard way that there is as much point in me trying to make conversation with a sans-bins photographer in the field about bird ID, behaviour, population trends, conservation issues etc., as my local MP (even though I'm usually carrying enough photo gear to stock a shop).

Oh and try making comments on ID errors, clearly pinioned waterfowl, captive birds, the value of ringing ("I think it abuses the bird") and satellite tracking ("we know they migrate to Africa so why make them carry all that stuff") on Gallery here and while some are appreciative of the help and explanation, many just rudely ask you to 'stop interfering'.

We might well share some common ground, but as Mark says, there is also a lot that separates as well..... although it is not just defined by who carries a camera and who doesn't obviously. Who carries bins and who doesn't is a much better indicator of common ground.

For the avoidance of doubt I am not saying one group is 'better'......

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Old Tuesday 31st January 2017, 16:16   #23
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I agree with Mark above. On a very practical level I have now learnt the hard way that there is as much point in me trying to make conversation with a sans-bins photographer in the field about bird ID, behaviour, population trends, conservation issues etc., as my local MP (even though I'm usually carrying enough photo gear to stock a shop).

Oh and try making comments on ID errors, clearly pinioned waterfowl, captive birds, the value of ringing ("I think it abuses the bird") and satellite tracking ("we know they migrate to Africa so why make them carry all that stuff") on Gallery here and while some are appreciative of the help and explanation, many just rudely ask you to 'stop interfering'.

We might well share some common ground, but as Mark says, there is also a lot that separates as well..... although it is not just defined by who carries a camera and who doesn't obviously. Who carries bins and who doesn't is a much better indicator of common ground.

For the avoidance of doubt I am not saying one group is 'better'......
I'm with you: these kinds of photographers aren't "into birds" they are into photography. What improves their photograph is good: what is adverse to the bird is irrelevant to them. They are not my kind of people at all. A better simile would be to suggest that birders and grouse shooters are both "into birds": that's the level of common ground we are talking about here.

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