[CT Birds] birder arrested

greg hanisek ctgregh at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 9 14:47:36 EST 2010

I'm sure everyone who has been birding for a long time has incidents to relate, but perhaps because of the changing times we live in the level of confrontation has risen sharply, as the arrest story and Larry's incident attest.
My own experiences have been minor irritations, at most, by comparison. My record on a Christmas Count was three calls to my house from different police departments as I crossed various jurisdictions during the day. The police never stopped me. They looked up my plate, called the house and asked my wife where I was and what I was doing. Her explanation sufficed (but she was mildly irritated when I got home).
On a different occasion I was out in the car the day after an ice storm when I came upon a birch tree encased in ice and bent to the ground. The ground was covered with redpolls picking up fallen birch seeds. I got out my camera and took some shots through the car window. My long-suffering wife fielded that call from police as well. They told her a woman had complained that I was looking in her window with a telescope. (I hadn't even been that aware of the house, which was blocked by the ice-covered tree). Bobbi, a veteran of these calls by that time, said to the cop, "Tell the woman if she doesn't have feathers she's got nothing to worry about."
But I fully appreciate the sickening feeling of the accused. I was once stopped by police and taken into custody on suspicion of a very serious crime, because I was near where it happened and fit the description of the criminal. (This was totally unrelated to birding. I was just walking on a street in Philadelphia). The police took me to the scene so the victim could give me a thumbs up or down. Fortunately she said no, it wasn't me, but to this day visions of Kafka occasionally run through my mind as I ponder the mess I'd have been in if in her distraught state she's said, "Yes, that's him." 
Greg Hanisek

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