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Special People (1 Viewer)

SueO

Well-known member
Recently, Jane Turner posted a thread about birders/photographers stressing birds for photo shots.
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=162374
Her post reminded me that I meant to do some blog postings about the Special People I see so often. This Thread is essentially the same as my blog but with less pictures. I wanted to post it here and invite anyone who has similar stories or observations to please add to the thread.
My first I’M TOO SPECIAL FOR THE RULES post is dedicated to a spot a few miles from my parent’s house in Southern California. It’s called the Bolsa Chica Wetlands Reserve.
The place is an ecological reserve so it has a few rules. Two of those rules are no dogs (with or without a leash) and no bikes. Simple, eh. Take a look at picture 1. I took that photo in 2006 and things haven’t improved much.
On November 29, 2009 I went to Bolsa Chica for a farewell birding day. Gene and I were due to leave on December 4th to return to Peregrine in Curacao. I can’t tell you how many SP were out that day. Some had their dogs running free, some were on trail bikes, some were letting their kids climb down the sides of the raised walkways. There was the guy in picture 2 (Maybe he is a volunteer or something?—Nah, not with the furtive looks I got when he saw me.)
The worst of the bunch were two photographers. I was walking on one of the new berms and looked down into a fenced off area. To be honest, I don’t know if where they were is part of the reserve or not but it was in an area marked Keep Out. I was looking at them and thinking that there were plenty of places to walk and take photos without going off road when I saw a coyote come through the scrub heading in their direction. After a few minutes they noticed it too. One of them went to one end of the scrubby area and the other went to the other end. The coyote was now in the scrub between them. Next, they left the trail and crashed into the tall, dry scrub and set up huge cameras on tripods. I guess they weren’t getting enough action so they started moving toward each other and putting the squeeze on the coyote. What stupid idiots, I thought as I watched. Suddenly, another SP came walking along a ridge above them and his dog was running here, there and everywhere. I was sure the coyote was going to run up to the top of the ridge to escape the photographers and have a tangle with the dog. They wouldn’t have heard if I yelled at them and I stood frozen worried that the Lab was going to get a bit chewed up. Finally the dog and owner moved on, but another couple with a dog on a leash was now walking on the trail below where the photographers were. The dog looked like an ad for Haute Cuisine Coyote Appetizers and again I held my breath. Nothing happened. I don’t know where the coyote went but he was obviously wiley enough to get out without any confrontations. Why is it that Special People are so often also stupid people?
I hadn’t gotten 100 yards before I saw another person down in the low area carrying a big camera and tri-pod. He stode across an area without a path and climbed over the fence that was clearly marked Keep Out.
 

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joannec

Well-known member
Hi Sue

One of the places I regularly bird and record birds is a heathland called Ashdown Forest in Sussex. It's prime heathland habitat. There are signs up at every carpark requesting people to keep dogs on leads during the breeding season between March and August. Do they do this? Almost without exception, no. I've even seen batty retriever women throwing toys into the heather and gorse for their precious labradors to retrieve:-C..............hummm.........nightjars, Dartford warblers among others could be nesting there. It's just bizarre. On this occasion I didn't confront them. I was alone and outnumbered and didn't have a camera with me either. I have though on other occasions pointed out that dogs should be on leads to protect the nesting birds. Always the reply is shock that their dear Bonzo would even dream harrassing wildlife. 'He wouldn't do that' is the universal response. I've also witnessed a golden retriever kill a sheep. :C What planet are these 'special people' living on?
 

SueO

Well-known member
Hi Joanne,
It is bizarre--it seems no one else exists or has any meaning. I have also seen the tossing of the stick thing. In fact, I have pictures of it in another 'I'm Too Special' blog post from Elsinore, California. :-O
I really believe that some people just don't realize that when Pookie is running through scrub, heathland, alpine meadows, etc., he doesn't have to chase birds to cause a problem. They don't visualize nests, and separated families or the energy draining scurrying that goes on unseen.
Personally, I love dogs, and I know they recognize that because I often get jumped on or greeted gently or followed. I know they need to run long stretches and play, but we have dog parks and otherplaces more appropriate. The reserves are too small as it is. I don't get bothered in parks that post to keep the dogs on a lease and they're not if there is a lot of activity already.
I get angry when I see blatant disregard for the wildlife; like messing with that coyote. Idiots!
Then we have parents like the one in the picture I'm posting. Teach your children well.;)
 

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JasonSprengard

Well-known member
I am going to start this post with my thought that I think dog owners should not be confined to only dog parks. There is a park very close to me called French park and it is an amazing park for dogs even though they are not allowed off of leads everyone lets em off my self included. Nothing really breeds where the dogs go because it is surrounded by ample amounts of thick brush which is then surrounded by forest which is where all of the cool stuff goes.

But now that I said that I am also going to say that I am a hard ass when it comes to disturbing wildlife. At one of my local forests I have become fast friends with the park rangers because they are just as fed up with the I am going to call them vandals, as I am. I tell them when I go to that forest so they keep their line open. If I see people disturbing wildlife I take a picture, call up the rangers, tale the people for usually about 5 minutes, then they get fined.

I think we as not only a birding community, but as a community of naturalists (or as my girl friend calls us in jest as she is one too, dirty stinking no good hippies) need to stop putting up with it. There is already too little good green space, and while I love my dog off of her lead, and I love going off of the beaten path, we need to stop standing for it.
 

David Smith

Warrington Lancs
There is a park very close to me called French park and it is an amazing park for dogs even though they are not allowed off of leads everyone lets em off my self included. Nothing really breeds where the dogs go because it is surrounded by ample amounts of thick brush which is then surrounded by forest which is where all of the cool stuff goes.
But now that I said that I am also going to say that I am a hard ass when it comes to disturbing wildlife.
.

Am I missing something here ? Please forgive me if I am (genuinely) but are you saying that it's Ok for you to ignore the rules if it suits you but have a go at others who break the rules when it suits them??
I wont say anything more incase I am mis-understanding you!!
 

csanchez7

Well-known member
Dogs should be on leashes unless otherwise noted, yet people still waltz into every suburban park in Miami-Dade with their dog. It's not just about breeding birds. It's also a disturbance for wintering birds. I also see it as just plain rude to the other users of the park.

For example, Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gables is a fine migrant trap and wintering bird hotspot, yet I find it difficult to bird there because there are just so many dogs there (illegally, signs post dog-free). I have to watch my every step to make sure I don't step on dog poop, instead of looking up into the trees. It's that bad.

Furthermore, everyone insists that 'their puppy' is perfectly 'harmless' and would never hurt a fly. Although I have come across many wonderful, playful dogs, I have also come across many dogs that come running towards me barking aggressively -- with the owner reassuring me that their dog doesn't bite, no less. Once I was shadowed by a lady walking a Rottweiler and two Doberman Pinschers without a lead. I was downright nervous when I should have been relaxing on a quiet morning.

Hope the puppy patrol lobby doesn't flame me for this one!

Carlos
 

nickderry

C'est pas ma faute, je suis anglais.
Saturday afternoon's birding was disrupted by three young lads throwing firecrackers and shaking the trees in the woods on the edge of the town. I'm usually very silent and shrink away from any confrontation, but I managed to get an "eh-oh!" shouted out at them and then exploded into a tirade of "what do you think you're doing? do you not realise etc etc..." It went quite well until I fumbled my French when telling them to clear off. They did go, but I feel it'd have been much better to have calmly spoken to them. Mind you, they really peed me off!
 

halftwo

Wird Batcher
Hi Sue,

Just be thankful you live in a relatively sparsely populated bit of the planet - if you lived near where I do you'd have gone to fetch your gun a long time ago.
My local "wood" is a no go area to me now - it is just a big dog-turd laden wasteland where everybody DRIVES to to let their dogs have a go at what used to be there.
The car park (!) is often overcrowded and then vehicles use the (once grass and flower-covered) verges, the height-restriction bar has been smashed in two by a too-high vehicle, the dog-crap bins are surrounded by heaps of plastic bags with dog-turds in them, the grass/flower meadows are a muddy mess, the shrubs strewn with plastic bags with - you've guessed...
Just today I shouted to two blokes on bikes who were riding along the footpath - and they wanted to know where it said they couldn't ride!!!! They then carried their bikes over the second bike-stopping turnstyle and continued - no doubt when out of my sight they got back on their bikes...
The local canal towpath is now used by dozens of bikes daily - the "No Cycling" sign is defaced. The permissive footpath along the river has tyre tracks in it, for God's sake!
All the verges are strewn with litter to the extent that litter is the major component of what were once grass and flowers, hedges are punched full of car-sized holes where "joyriders" have lost it on bends.
The "pond" which originally was of some use to breeding insects is so often a "bath" and a playground for those lovely friendly furry things that it is a permanent muddy , trample-edged wasteland.
Local crops are frequently walked across by dogs - and owners having to retrieve balls/sticks they've thrown there for pooch to fetch - and of course hardly a lead/leash ever gets deployed.
All you can hear at any time of day is the screams of dog owners shouting at their dogs which have either decided to take off/have a fight with one of the other scores of dogs/jumped in the canal to "play" with the ducks etc etc, and over which they have absolutely zero control.
And if anyone dares have the gall to challenge any of these Special People their response is always along the lines of "My Smudgy-Wudgy wouldn't do any harm to anything/he's only being friendly/oh, no! he wouldn't eat a Partridge/Sky lark." etc.

And I'm in a semi-rural environment, you can imagine what urban green spaces are like!

Apparently dog ownership has increased by 60% in the last few years in the UK, "mountain" bikes are in plague numbers, and everyone wants to be out in the "countryside" - there are VERY few places left round here where you can get peace and quiet.

H
 

Captain_of_Crunch

YVdpep_re64
This thread reminds me of an interesting documentary on BBC Radio 4 last week. Looking at Richmond Park in central London, Researchers from the University of Bristol found that dogs contributed ;) around 100 tons of waste per year. The effects of this was clearly visible on aerial photographs - what was an acid grassland was slowly being changed into hyper-manured grassland. As an aside, they also found that a medium to large dog kept in the UK had the same environmental impact/footprint (1.1 hectares) as that of running two 4x4 vehicles. * / **

Back to the topic of "Special People". It really is amazing how many people can be so wilfully ignorant of the environment around them.

*Inb4 anti-dog rants
**http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2009/11/20/2003458906
 

JasonSprengard

Well-known member
Am I missing something here ? Please forgive me if I am (genuinely) but are you saying that it's Ok for you to ignore the rules if it suits you but have a go at others who break the rules when it suits them??
I wont say anything more incase I am mis-understanding you!!

You are and you aren't.
YES, I and everyone else is breaking the law by letting them go off of their leads, no I am not disturbing wildlife because where I and everyone else goes has far too much human commotion (much less dogs) for there to really be anything other than squirrels. If anyone on here is from Cincinnati please correct me if I am wrong but most dog parks I have ever experienced are terrible. In Cincinnati the few that are here are horrible. Even the police bring their K9's to socialize them with other dogs. It is not designated as a wildlife area it is just a park. It is basically just understood that French park is a dog park to everyone, cops don't reinforce the dog leash laws there, 99% of the dogs are well behaved, and I have never seen any dog poop that the owner wasn't in the process of picking up. Really there isn't much of anything to disturb in the public areas. When I said that I am a hard ass when it comes to wildlife I meant it. I have seen kids slingshot squirrels and birds, people harassing bird nests, screwing with snakes. I don't put up with it. I agree with all of you that dogs, and most people for that matter shouldn't be on nature preserves, or even more generally in places where wildlife has a chance to flourish, which is where most of us birders spend our time. Dogs and their owners get a bad rap from birders, rightfully so. But thats not the end of the story.
When I said that I was only making the point that dog owners, at least in my experience, feel screwed over too. I am just saying that as long as the owners are responsible, and the dogs don't disrupt anything more than the people already do its not as terrible as us birders say it is.
Thank you very much for calling me out on that though.
 

hollis_f

Well-known member
I am going to start this post with my thought that I think dog owners should not be confined to only dog parks. There is a park very close to me called French park and it is an amazing park for dogs even though they are not allowed off of leads everyone lets em off my self included. Nothing really breeds where the dogs go because it is surrounded by ample amounts of thick brush which is then surrounded by forest which is where all of the cool stuff goes.

You misspelled "plagued by special people who let their dogs rampage freely despite it not being allowed".
 

BlueJam

Active member
It all comes down to trying to be responsible under the specific circumstances that you are in at any one time. This may change from place to place and time to time.
 

SueO

Well-known member
Saturday afternoon's birding was disrupted by three young lads throwing firecrackers and shaking the trees in the woods on the edge of the town. I'm usually very silent and shrink away from any confrontation, but I managed to get an "eh-oh!" shouted out at them and then exploded into a tirade of "what do you think you're doing? do you not realise etc etc..." It went quite well until I fumbled my French when telling them to clear off. They did go, but I feel it'd have been much better to have calmly spoken to them. Mind you, they really peed me off!
I have seen more unruly kids than dogs. Some behave outrageously even when the parents are standing right there! Charging birds or throwing things at them. It's amazing how many parents say nothing! I guess it might hurt the kids self esteem to tell to him to stop tormenting the birds.
Sue
 

SueO

Well-known member
I didn’t really expect this to turn into a dog bashing thing. The PEOPLE present on that day were far worse than the dogs. I agree with you all when you say dogs should be on a leash when required. After all, I started this rant and loose dogs were part of the complaint. I can’t get too upset over loose dogs in some situations. For instance, a few blocks from my parent’s home is a now non-functional elementary school. I think it is used for adult education or something. In the mornings and evenings the large grounds are pretty much empty. It would be fine in my mind to see people let their dogs run and I don’t think there are signs of any kind at this school/park. There are many small neighborhood parks that might offer the same opportunities. I’m not talking about aggressive dogs or dogs without any obedience skills and most people pick up their dog’s poop and throw it in the trash. Of course, there are always the special people who wouldn’t pick up after their dogs or let them dig or destroy or allow them to jump on people or get too close to people; those few ruin things for responsible people.
Carlos, your point is more than valid. Some people are nervous around or downright afraid of dogs and don’t want to see them running loose. I understand that. So, if there are signs requiring leashes, there should be leashes.
 

SueO

Well-known member
Hi Sue,

Just be thankful you live in a relatively sparsely populated bit of the planet - if you lived near where I do you'd have gone to fetch your gun a long time ago.
My local "wood" is a no go area to me now - it is just a big dog-turd laden wasteland where everybody DRIVES to to let their dogs have a go at what used to be there.
The car park (!) is often overcrowded and then vehicles use the (once grass and flower-covered) verges, the height-restriction bar has been smashed in two by a too-high vehicle, the dog-crap bins are surrounded by heaps of plastic bags with dog-turds in them, the grass/flower meadows are a muddy mess, the shrubs strewn with plastic bags with - you've guessed...
Just today I shouted to two blokes on bikes who were riding along the footpath - and they wanted to know where it said they couldn't ride!!!! They then carried their bikes over the second bike-stopping turnstyle and continued - no doubt when out of my sight they got back on their bikes...
The local canal towpath is now used by dozens of bikes daily - the "No Cycling" sign is defaced. The permissive footpath along the river has tyre tracks in it, for God's sake!
All the verges are strewn with litter to the extent that litter is the major component of what were once grass and flowers, hedges are punched full of car-sized holes where "joyriders" have lost it on bends.
The "pond" which originally was of some use to breeding insects is so often a "bath" and a playground for those lovely friendly furry things that it is a permanent muddy , trample-edged wasteland.
Local crops are frequently walked across by dogs - and owners having to retrieve balls/sticks they've thrown there for pooch to fetch - and of course hardly a lead/leash ever gets deployed.
All you can hear at any time of day is the screams of dog owners shouting at their dogs which have either decided to take off/have a fight with one of the other scores of dogs/jumped in the canal to "play" with the ducks etc etc, and over which they have absolutely zero control.
And if anyone dares have the gall to challenge any of these Special People their response is always along the lines of "My Smudgy-Wudgy wouldn't do any harm to anything/he's only being friendly/oh, no! he wouldn't eat a Partridge/Sky lark." etc.

And I'm in a semi-rural environment, you can imagine what urban green spaces are like!

Apparently dog ownership has increased by 60% in the last few years in the UK, "mountain" bikes are in plague numbers, and everyone wants to be out in the "countryside" - there are VERY few places left round here where you can get peace and quiet.

H

H,
Everything is relative, but the Orange County coastal area doesn’t seem sparsely populated to me and my guns were destroyed in the 2007 wildfires.;)
Seriously, your situation sounds intolerable. Worse, it’s heartbreaking to have a rare piece of woods treated like that. It makes my rant trivial.
I don’t understand a few things.
the dog-crap bins are surrounded by heaps of plastic bags with dog-turds in them, the grass/flower meadows are a muddy mess, the shrubs strewn with plastic bags with - you've guessed...
Are the bins not emptied often enough, or do people just throw the plastic bags down? Why would anyone who bothered to put the poop in a bag then throw it in the shrubs?
I would be livid to find a carpet of poop and plastic bags of it hanging in trees, and litter is my pet peeve. How hard can it be to carry out an empty plastic bottle or foil wrappers? I have had a hard time in many of the countries I’ve visited because of litter. I just don’t get why it exists. There is so little we can do about so much, but we can ALL pick up our own trash, and the whole world can be taught the best disposal methods. I need to stop now, or I’ll rant about litter for three pages. :C
Can’t you get a group together to meet in the car park and have coffee while you bird? While you’re birding in the car park you can just ask the SP nicely to put their dogs on a leash, pick up their poop and place it in the proper place. The first few times, it could be asking nicely. After a month of being nice, the videos and cameras come out and eyewitnesses could lodge complaints to the police or animal control. I think a few hefty fines would change attitudes. Can’t pay the fine? No problemo—it can be worked off with trash and poop patrol for a month of week-ends. Even Special People would realize they’re not going to get away with ignoring the rules if a dozen angry, torch bearing (or binocular bearing) locals force their hands.
Here I am dishing out advice to you when Bolsa Chica should do the same. Maybe it’s time to post ‘rangers’ or something at Bolsa to start handing out $1,000.00 fines. The fines could go back into the reserve. No, it’s not that bad (especially in light of your comment). Hundreds of people go to Bolsa Chica and it’s just a handful of SP doing stupid things. I’d hate to see officialdom come to such a great place, it would ruin it as much as the Special Morons do. Why can’t people just follow a few simple rules??!! By far the majority are sticking to the rules and paths while they bird or take pictures or jog or walk. Sometimes Gene and I refer to the SP as the 2% Club. 2% of the people cause 98% of the problems. We’ve simply got to invent transporters and beam them to Mars or something. The dogs should be adopted out though.;)
Sue
 
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TheSeagull

Well-known member
I was at Loch Garten last summer and this family had a big 4x4 with a labrador in the back, despite big signs saying no dogs they decided to ask anyway and disregard the advice, without a leash. I don't see how people think "Oh today we'll go to the nature reserve, I know, we'll bring the dog, we can let him off the lead" :smoke:
 
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