[CT Birds] Birding and Police, a different take

Donna sunny19682 at comcast.net
Sun Jan 10 12:34:47 EST 2010

I can't help but agree... and I certainly hope the topic won't fade as it 
does seriously impact what this list was set up to do - allow us to share 
where birds are located.  Perhaps we can initiate some discussion to foster 
the education desperately needed.  Heck, in the long run, we may end up 
recruiting new birders (now wouldn't that be cool?).  And if we are not 
allowed to have such discussions here, then I suggest setting up a sister 
site on say Yahoo Groups (very easy to join and use) or something similar 
(unless another discussion place already exists).  I think this is a great 
topic overall, despite the fact that I am annoyed with the idea that someone 
might be out there thinking that just because I'm carrying a camera, scope, 
and what not that I'm some perv or terrorist with a hidden agenda.

As someone recently entering the educational system, I've been finding any 
excuse to incorporate my photographs of anything relating to nature (and 
getting plenty of ooo's and ahhh's from students amazed that their current 
long term substitute teacher is so talented - big blush when many have 
greater skills than I) - but really, what can we do to help folks understand 
that we are communing with nature - maybe even a step up in doing 

Should we consider registering ourselves with a database that we are birders 
or other well-rounded naturalists?  Speaking of naturalists, perhaps someone 
can tell me how you go about becoming a 'naturalist'?  Does someone take a 
set of courses?  I've a degree in Biology and been a friend of nature for 
all my life (sure, I don't do all I should, but I'm slowly changing my old 


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Boletebill" <boletebill at yahoo.com>
To: <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>; "Mark Szantyr" <birddog55 at charter.net>
Sent: Sunday, January 10, 2010 11:44 AM
Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Birding and Police, a different take

Like most long time birders I too have had my interactions with police. In 
the mid '90's I went through an owl phase and after the second 
middle-of-the-night questioning I just started a policy of calling the local 
police, giving my plate # and telling them what I was up to. Never got 
bothered after that and I do the same for night time salamander surveys.

I had a scary encounter at Hammonassett Reservoir birding when a Water Co. 
cop and local police tracked me down in the woods and grilled me about what 
I was doing so near the water supply. It took a lot of talking to convince 
them that I wasn't a terrorist about to poison the water supply. As many 
have said about this I wasn't mad and I'm glad someone is watching our water 
supplies and now I generally avoid birding off trail on water supply land. 
Yes I was off trail. Mea culpa.

My nightmare scenario happened at Ninigret Wildlife Sancuary. I was 
birding-by-car, that is driving slowly along the roads and airstrip 
listening for different birds. I passed the swimming pond twice during my 
circuit and when I left the park State Police pulled me over, guns drawn and 
extracted me from my car. It seemed a woman at the swimming pond thought I 
was looking to abduct a child from the park. Apparently someone had 
attempted that earlier in the summer and this woman was "Certain" it was me. 
Everything was cleared up in short order but phew, that was scary and ruined 
a whole day of my vacation.

I know a lot of people have had their say on this and many are ready for the 
subject to fade away but one thought that I have about these experiences is 
this: Doesn't this cry out for some kind of educational outreach between 
Birder organizations and local police, Park personel, State police? Just a 

Bill Yule
"For those who hunger after the earthly excrescences called mushrooms."

--- On Sat, 1/9/10, Mark Szantyr <birddog55 at charter.net> wrote:

From: Mark Szantyr <birddog55 at charter.net>
Subject: [CT Birds] Birding and Police, a different take
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
Date: Saturday, January 9, 2010, 9:55 PM

Having the distinction of being a birder who was arrested for criminal 
trespass on my very first visit to the "old" Milford Point ( all charges 
dropped and the complaintant warned to stop harassing birders), I want to 
say that in subsequent encounters with police I have had nothing but 
respectful questions and then warm interest in what this birding thing was 
all about.
This may be an unpopular view, but while out at all hours of the night 
owling in some rather remote and sometimes unsavory environments, I have 
regarded their concern as a comfort. I always thank them for checking on me 
for if I was indeed in need of assistance, I was glad to know they were 

Mark S. Szantyr
80 Bicknell Road #9
Ashford, Connecticut 06278
Birddog55 at charter.net

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This list is provided by the Connecticut Ornithological Association (COA) 
for the discussion of birds and birding in Connecticut.
For subscription information visit 

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