CBC Chat Forum Thread

AuthorTopic: Chased from a Barred Warbler
David Tipling Chased from a Barred Warblerposted at 18/09/2014 12:37:33

I rarely attempt to photograph rare birds these days but this week with a few nice birds around I've been out and about with my camera.  It has been very enjoyable too until this morning at Gramborough Hill.

A Barred Warbler here was showing beautifully to the delight of many, both photographers and birders.  It then decided to move to the main clump of bushes as it has been doing during its stay.  The group then dispersed and a small group stayed by the original bush.  There was no move to go and view it again so with camera in hand I wandered over and on my own set up in front of the bushes.  After 10 minutes the warbler popped out and performed.  As I was peering through the camera I heard a group of birders arrive behind me and a lady exclaim in a loud voice, "how selfish' why does he need to be so close"  various other members of the group started muttering about photographers.

The warbler was not impressed with all this noise and then a member of the group came up behind me flushing it.  He introduced himself to me as an ex county recorder etc etc and asked my name which I willingly gave as I felt very innocent in all of this.  It was then suggested by this chap who was polite enough that people like me give all photographers a bad name. Despite explaining I was on my own with the bird with no one else bothering to look, the fact they had arrived and seen me photographing the bird at close quarters was enough to set off this group. I felt I needed to leave at this point but clearly felt very angry not least because I felt I had been chased away.

I tell this story because I wonder if there are too many birders walking around with an inbuilt lack of tolerance towards bird photographers, as these people illustrated.  If I had been standing with a group and then moved closer I agree that would have been anti social but I was on my own and not harassing the bird, it had come to me through the bushes, I had used a bit of fieldcraft to get my picture.  If someone is photographing a bird at close quarters chances are they have spent some time carefully getting into position, it is then extremely irritating to have someone come charging up behind asking what you are doing.

Because I had a long lens I had a target on my back, I wonder if I had been peering into the bushes with bins and no camera whether there would have been quite a different reaction?

Noel Elms Re: Chased from a Barred Warblerposted at 18/09/2014 16:16:22

I too thought I would take a look at Gramborough Hill this morning but when I saw the number of people there, my enthusiasm waned and I went elsewhere. Although I did not witness the situation David Tipling describes, I have no reason to doubt his version of events and is exactly why I no longer find the modern birding scene an enjoyable experience with its culture of confrontation and abuse and one to be avoided at all costs.

I think David would agree with me that the problem is caused by those, with or without cameras, who consider they have the inalienable right to unfettered access to each and every bird regardless of the consequences. David mentioned fieldcraft enabling him to get close to the bird he was trying to photograph. Sadly, this is an attribute either ignored or non-existent in the modern birder.

Michael Sweeney Re: Re: Chased from a Barred Warblerposted at 22/09/2014 08:55:51

I hesitate to add fuel to the flames of this subject which has been gone over many times, though by the sound of it David you were being careful and not causing any problems. Unfortunately the behaviour of some photographers means that assumptions are too readily made. Interestingly yesterday at Gramborough it was not photograhers that were being selfish, it was a row of four people with bins and scopes who had decided to get in front of the bushes instead of standing on the main path. There was no point to this, it just obstructed the view from the path, and made it less likely that the Barred would appear. They weren't going to get a better view than from the path. The Yellow-browed appeared briefly, but I gave up on the Barred, and anyway, like you Noel, if I see a crowd these days my instinct it to head the other way.

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