The relationship with and understanding the photographing of rare birds and their needs.
This blog is about what makes us want to photograph special, rare, or any birds, wildlife and the reasons behind that idea. I was in a conversation with members of a wildlife trust and a discussion arose about photographers in general and why we feel we must photograph any or all birds that cross our paths and why we cant just enjoy the view and leave them alone, a good question really but there is more to this than we realise, in fact a lot more.
The birding world, people with scopes and photographers in general do not always get on with each other when it comes to birds. I have experienced some aggravation and harsh words from the birding community at times and to be honest I can understand why, But as I said there is more to this than we think, and I feel I know why now.
It's because many years ago filming or photographing wild life especially birds was done by those who worked closely with conservation groups and the making of nature films or books, to show us all the wonderful things we would see if we went out into the natural world.
David Attenborough is a great example to us all, as over the many years he has presented such wonderful programs, also many nature and wildlife presenters on TV, not forgetting all the nature reserves throughout the UK, publishing wild life magazines, photography magazines, web sites and social media and films to name a few.
With the growing interest in photography, which was only for the wealthy many years ago, is now so popular and affordable for just about anyone with money to spend. So, looking at it from today's point of view, anyone can buy a complex Digital camera with a long focal length lens and go out to photograph wild life, for example birds. This in turn has become one of the world's biggest hobbies and with many social media, magazines and web sites all wanting you to send your photos to them to be published or shown on TV, even better you can upload as many as you like to any social media page like face book, Twitter, Flickr and many others.
Social media web sites form groups so you can join and post your photo work and in turn this inspires people to get the best photos to show everyone how well they are doing with their cameras. These sites can also make people more competitive with each other but also give people the chance to improve and learn about photography in general. What must be remembered is, it can become almost a negative activity because we all want to do well and be better and this can be a powerful tool to encourage people to go about it in the wrong way.
I was one of those who got caught up in trying to photograph everything and get that top shot, the only problem is with this comes a sad side to it all, we are so busy trying to get that great photo to impress everyone that we forget about the wild life and its fragile existence and how we can affect that animal, bird or any other creature with our approach to them by chasing it around and forgetting the dangers of what we do.
This is all understandably the outcome and not everyone realise it's wrong, but it is when you see how it can affect the wild life in general and when it comes to birds you can see why we have these problems within the birding community, but to make it worse there are now a few who are not practising what they preach and it's sad to see people with scopes with a cameras attached to it chasing or trying to get closer to get a photo, they are now doing what the some people with cameras are doing and it is wrong
You might have noticed the photo at the top of the page is a Schedule 1 bird, OK so what, well this species is protected by law and the list is growing every year and there is a cut-off point when you can photograph these Dartford Warblers and many other endangered species. This starts on the first day of Mach to the end of September and you can not disturb the birds if you come across their nesting area and you are not permitted to photograph them, and you must move off away from the nest site or area. (This bird was photographed per chance out on a trail while photographing other species and not near a nest site and is not published elsewhere.)
The law states very clearly about the nest or nesting site not being disturbed or approached, well I have had contact with the authorities who made these laws and If you want to photograph them in the period they are not to be disturbed at their nesting site or area, you have to have a licence, but that is a big NO straight away as you will only get that licence if you are part of a large institution, wild life trust or conservation group.
The only time you can photograph them is in a public area, public access or even a public path through the nature reserves, but even then, you can't go to or stand by a nest to photograph them in a public place, confused well you should be. To clear it up a bit, remember these birds are protected species and even in a public space/area/path do not disturb or photograph the bird if it has a nest nearby or at the nest location. If you come across a rare bird and it is just flying around, feeding or just perched out in the open on a tree or any plant life or pops up in front of you and you are sure there is no nest nearby, then taking a photo is not breaking the law, but saying that it does not give you the right to chase it about so the bird becomes distressed.
Remember tacking photos is a great hobby and a very good outdoor activity that gives most a feeling of pleasure and amazement when observing these wonderful little creatures that come in so many variations, size and colours, but most of all be aware they are very precious indeed and are on the decline all over the world.
So please think what and why is the reason you are taking that stunning image of any bird, is it to compete with others, get your photo to the top of the group competition, hoping it will make publication or just being successful in the photographic world. The best reason of all, is just enjoy the moment and take the time to sit/stand and observe quietly and make the day complete with a well-earned photo taken with the safety and preservation of the bird in mind and the only reason you took that photo was because you had the chance to be part of a private moment you shared with that creature and just enjoy each other's company for a while without disturbing the bird and expecting nothing in return.