[CT Birds] Long Beach Snowy owls

julian hough jrhough1 at snet.net
Mon Dec 4 11:11:48 EST 2017

To follow upon Julie's post, I had arrived around 11 am after the female had been flushed. The other bird, likely a male, was chill and obliging allowing many people to see it and take some photos. As with many Snowy Owls over the years, I have found most people to behave themselves, but before we get into the photographer-bashing mode, a couple of points might be worth noting and considering before the emotionality of people kick in (it's only December, so it could be a looonngg winter!).
First, you never know when one particular bird may be accommodating or skittish, and typically they will fly off before you get within a reasonable distance, a sign that this bird will not be obliging. Most photographers I know recognize that this is a sign of a bird that will not be cooperative, and will often leave it alone. I have certainly experienced this, along with many other respected photographers. This does not mean a bird is harassed.
One problem at Long Beach that I have seen over the years when there is a bigger group of people (and therefore more judgement), is a lack of fieldcraft being evident. A group of people, instead of moving up slowly, low, in a tight group will approach a bird, in a standing position, spread out from all sides and essentially corralling a bird  - this will surely cause even a cooperative bird to flush. Basic fieldcraft and approaching these birds is key to getting nice pix AND allowing them space. And people trying to get close with point and shoot camera's should be bludgeoned with their own gear. On the spot. Instantly.
I wasn't there yesterday, so I can't attest to whether this woman was being selfish, or whether it was just someone overzealous (I've been one of those people too!) and clueless from a fieldcraft point of view. 
It is up to seasoned birders and photographers present to help, not by being confrontational, but perhaps being helpful in suggesting a better approach or by using better fieldcraft techniques.
Respectfully, Julian Hough New Haven, CT 06519 www.naturescapeimages.wordpress.com 


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